An Honest Look at High Heels

Style doesn’t always come easy—especially for the feet.

For many women, high heels have an enduring appeal, suggesting style and attractiveness, as well as professionalism and power. However, these benefits come with tremendous drawbacks: A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association reported that 71 percent of women who wear high heels say the shoes cause foot pain.

As the heel of the shoe gets higher, more weight and pressure are placed on the ball of the foot. This change, the American Osteopathic Association reports, throws the whole body out of alignment—potentially leading to pain in the low back, neck and shoulders, too.

More Than a Trend

Despite the discomfort, it looks like high heels are here to stay. While women who wear heels admit that they hurt, that doesn’t stop them from wearing them. The average woman who wears high heels owns nine pairs.

There are certain things women can do to drastically lower the negative effects of wearing heels, such as:

Wear high heels for limited amounts of time. Consider wearing flats or tennis shoes during your commute and then changing to heels when you arrive at work.

  • Stretch you legs and ankles before putting heels on.
  • Limit the heel length to two inches.
  • Avoid heels with a pointed toe, or select heels where the point begins after the shoe’s toe box.
  • Use extra caution around tripping hazards.
  • Find inserts that provide extra padding and support for the ball of the foot.

While high-heeled shoes may still be necessary for some occasions, the best way to avoid foot pain is to opt for comfortable footwear.

Comfort for the Closet

Walk into any shoe store and you’ll notice a variety of different options. Some of these shoe styles are a little more comfortable than others.

Finding the right pair can be very beneficial for your health. Not only will it help relieve foot pain, but also pain in the knees, hips and back—especially for those who spend a lot of time on their feet.

A survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association found that participants ranked the following shoe categories as the most comfortable options:

  1. Sheepskin boots
  2. Running/Athletic shoes
  3. Loafers
  4. Canvas sneakers
  5. Sandals

Sources: 

apma.org, osteopathic.org, aarp.org, link.springer.com