It’s believed that the way your feet feel determines the well being of your whole body. And with aches, corns, blisters, muscle spasms, calluses, bunions and er… general pain, heels can be one heck of mood spoiler.
I mean, if your heels are killing you and your feet feel like it’s about to fall off, you don’t feel that great and your party night (and not to mention your mood) is ruined.
I’ve learnt my lessons since, so here are some of my tips to make them more comfortable.
1. First, it all starts with the shoes themselves.
This goes without saying, but it’s important you find a pair of heels that actually fit. As in, don’t try to squeeze your foot into a shoe that is a size or two smaller, or even the opposite: don’t wear a shoe that is too big for you!
Wearing the wrong size shoe can change the way you walk in them and cause tons of problems, aches and pains in the foot and the knees.
Buying a smaller size leads a lot of pain, squeezing every part of your foot in an unnatural position; while a bigger size makes you walk around like you’re playing dress up in mommy’s shoes; which, makes you use all sorts of other muscle strain in the foot, which … you guessed it, equals more pain!
Here’s a small diagram so you can know what exactly is going on to your body while wearing heels:
Oh, the trials of being a woman! As you can see in the diagram above, here are some of the things that happen to your body as you wear heels:
- Hammertoes – A narrow toe box pushes the smaller toes into a bent position at the middle joint. Eventually, the muscles in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th toes become unable to straighten, even when there is no confining shoe.
- Ankle injuries – High heels impair balance, a wearer is at a greater risk of falling, which can lead to a sprained or broken ankle (or worse, actually!)
- Bunions – Tight-fitting shoes can cause a bony growth on the joint at the base of the big toe, which forces the big toe to angle in towards the other toes, resulting in pain. Not to mention, bunions can be permanent – there are a lot of women who have a permanent bunions from wearing too much high heels, and as you can see… it ain’t pretty.
- The Knee – The altered posture of walking in high heels places excess force on the inside of the knee – a common site of osteoarthritis among women. One study found that knee joint pressure increased by as much as 26% when women wear heels.
- Posture – High heels much the center of the mass in the body forward, taking the hips and spine out of alignment.
(It’s Not All Bad, though.)
If the diagram and it’s point scares you, be encouraged that this is probably for women who wear high heels day in and day out for most of their lives. I definitely recommend that you don’t wear high heels that often, and when you don’t, obviously a lot of the things above can be prevented.
2. Next, buying the right pair of heels
Once you know just what high heels can do and why it’s best to start taking care of your feet, here are some more general tips on buying the right pair of heels:
- If you can, avoid pointed shoes. They squeeze your toes together and can create bunions and injuries such as Morton’s Neuroma. A good way to see if your toes have enough room is that you should be able to wiggle your toes without problems.
- Buy shoes that allow your feet to ‘breathe’. Avoid plastics that are uncomfortable and allow your foot to stay cool. Leather is said to be the best.
- Try to avoid kitten heels where the heel is very thin. This puts unbelievable pressure to your knees and the ball of your feet. Thicker heels are much better since they offer more support.
- Buy shoes that are not too tight when you first try them. Your feet expands throughout the day, so when it’s slightly “larger” at the end of it, that’s when it can cause all the pain.
- Buy the proper heel: The ideal heel height is 1-1.5 inches.
3. Get backup – lots of it!
Get backup flats. Bring a pair of flip-flops or your favorite flats in your bag. That is, if your bag is big enough to fit them in. I used to do this; once the ‘night’ was done with and I’m just left with my friends, I switched my shoes and actually start to enjoy myself and my feet could relax.
Cushion up. Another type of “backup” is to get as much support as you can. There are many gel pads and cushions inserts available today. You simply stick them to the sole of your shoes. The best ones are Dr. Scholl’s Gel Heel Cushion, which is made for every type of shoe and concern.
Season them. If you bought new shoes for this new season, wear them around the house a bit to ‘loosen’ them up a bit. I think everyone can relate to wearing new shoes the very same day of buying them and having painful blisters.
4. Learn how – and when – to wear high heels
Baby steps. As in, stand up straight (you guys know what other benefits that gives!), take smaller steps so there is less pressure on your foot. Long strides create extra weight each time you take a step, which speeds up the chances of aches and pains. And please, no running in heels. Ouch.
Keep it in place. If your feet tends to slip and slide while wearing high heels, try this hairspray trick to keep them firmly in place.
Limit yourself. Don’t wear heels everyday, unless you want to have procedures in the future such as correcting bunions, ingrown toenails, replace worn out toe-joints, knee or back surgery. Limit yourself to two hours at a party and then slip on your flats for the rest of the night. Also, try sitting down for intervals if your shoes are starting to wear you down.
4. After Care – it’s important!
Pamper them! End your night with a warm foot bath. Fill a tub full of warm water and just relax and soak your feet, massaging them gently. You can even add a bit of milk to your mixture; it’s been said that it is very soothing for aching muscles.
Moisturize. To end, moisturize your feet before sleeping, further massaging them. Try this natural moisturizer that will really soak in!
All that stiff movement in your heels can lead to dry, rough heels and dry lines all over your foot. Moisturize your foot and if you want to take it a step further; after moisturizing, wear socks to sleep to really let your foot ‘drink’ in the moisture and recover from all that pain.
5. Bottom Line…
I know heels are sexy and everybody loves them, but if you’re going to be miserable and in pain the whole night, there’s no real point, is there? Not to mention all the other complications heels can start up, so please take care of your feet!
And, as always, I love hearing from you: what do you do to make your heels more comfortable?