The problem, of course, is that they are not good for you. They are likely to leave your feet sore, regardless of how comfortable they are. After a few hours, you will likely have lower back pain, knees may ache, and the balls of your feet may ache, a pain called metatarsalgia, due to excessive downward force being exerted on them. When wearing heels, the body must adjust and shift its total weight and center of gravity to compensate for the heel of the shoe. The higher the heel, the greater the risk of lower back, hip, and knee problems.
With regular use of heels two inches or higher, the Achilles tendon and calf muscles can undergo changes in shape. As the heel of the shoe pushes up on the human heel, the Achilles tendon and calf muscles face increased pressure. The tendon can shorten and the muscles can stiffen and reshape. This can occur in people who frequently wear heels and can create pain in the lower extremities of the body.
After years of wearing high heels and realigning your body due to shoes, you may experience discomfort when wearing flat shoes or walking barefoot. The body will have adapted to the shape of the heels, causing irritation when other types of shoes are worn. The higher the heel, the worse the problem. A one-inch heel puts about 22% more pressure on the ball of your foot than a flat shoe. With a three-inch heel, there is over 75% more pressure in the forefoot.
Wearing high heels once in a while probably won’t pose any immediate danger to your health, but wearing them every day or even weekly can. High-heeled shoes can cause a host of foot problems while impairing stability and increasing the risk of injury. Leg, back and foot pain are among some of the most common complaints. Long-term use can even cause structural changes in the foot itself, leading to bunions, hammer toes, neuroma, equinus, and other conditions that may require surgical correction. In addition to injury, high heels place excessive stress on the back and lower extremities that can profoundly affect posture, gait, and balance.
If you feel the consequences of constantly wearing heels, there are steps you can take to help combat the pain and discomfort. These tips can help lessen the pain you feel when wearing high-heeled shoes.
- Change up your choice of shoes – opt for flat shoes or shoes that provide more support and cushioning.
- Change up your exercise routine – Reduce frequent stress on your knees, hips, and lower back while you exercise. Rowing, swimming, and the elliptical are types of low-impact exercises that are easier on your joints.
- Minimize the number of days you wear heels – try adding flats or wedges to your shoe selection.
- Choose a shorter heel: Heels two inches or shorter put less stress on your joints.
- Stretch your calves before and after wearing heels: Take some time to do lunges or other methods to stretch your calves.
- Put cushions in your shoes and heels – make your shoe choices more comfortable for your feet.
While it’s not feasible to give up heels altogether, here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping for and wearing your favorite heels.
- When shopping for heels, make sure you buy the correct size that fits you well. If you buy a larger size, you may fall off. If you buy a smaller size, it may be tight and cause pain.
- Some of us have narrow feet, some have wide feet, some have smaller toes, while some may have long toes. There are so many variations. If you have wide feet, don’t wear closed toe shoes, wear wide closed or open toed shoes. Even those with smaller toes should opt for wide, closed-toe shoes. Pointed toe shoes will pinch your toes and make you very uncomfortable. Heels that cramp your toes will cause pain when walking and increase the chance of developing bunions, calluses, and developing hammertoes and even arthritis later in life.
- Wearing heels puts more pressure on your feet, especially on the balls of your feet. Before you buy that coveted pair, check to make sure they have adequate padding and cushioning in the area that supports the balls of your feet. High heels with excellent cushioning and padding provide great support and comfort to your feet.
- When choosing high heels, check where the heel sits. Ideally, the heel should be placed under your own heel. Remember, the thicker the heel, the more support it provides to your body. Look for platforms that distribute your weight evenly across your foot rather than concentrating it on the ball of your foot or heel. Therefore, opt for wider and thicker heels if you want to reduce the risk of twisting your ankles.
- High heels from 3 cm to 9 cm in height are the most comfortable for walking. Heels higher than that height put more pressure on your lower back, knees, ankles, and don’t provide any support for balance.
- Give your feet a break. When wearing high heels, the best advice you can take to prevent pain is to simply sit down whenever possible. This will give your feet a break and prevent any pain or discomfort from developing, keeping your feet cool.
- Don’t wear high heels too often. High heels look fabulous, but save them for special occasions only.