Frequent use of high-heel shoes is discouraged. See why!

The perfect, pointy pair of 4-inch heels can make any outfit, but with this style comes much suffering. High heels have the stigma of being bad for health and comfort, but this barely stops women from wearing them occasionally and often daily. Women often make sacrifices for foot fashion, but at what price? Studies have shown that these towering shoes can be costly in more ways than one, taking their toll on your spine, hips, knees, ankles, and feet, while altering your posture and gait. We’ve done our research to help educate and convince women to take it down a notch, for their own good!

high-heel shoes

How heels affect different parts of your body

Spine – Walking in high heels causes your spine to sway unnaturally, and stresses your lumbar erector spinae muscle, leading to a sore lower back.

Knee – Heels put extra weight on the inner side of the knees and knee joints, leading to the risk of twisting injuries to the knees.

Feet – Heels cause your body mass to be shifted onto the balls of your feet. Apart from bunions, blisters, and calluses, this uneven weight distribution can cause pinched nerves, swollen joints, and Achilles tendonitis.

Varicose veins – Heels force your ankles to bend forward, restricting blood circulation in your lower limbs and leading to varicose veins. This may result in ruptured veins and a swollen and painful sensation in your legs.

Calves – Long-term walking in heels shortens the muscles and tendons in your calves, leading to stiffness, reduced range of motion, and a higher risk of strains, sprains, and lower-body injury.

Making Heels Safer and More Wearable

Heels may not be the healthiest choice for your feet, but you don’t have to rule them out altogether. Take some precautions and you can still gain a few inches without suffering major consequences.

Opt for a Platform Heel. If you’re obsessed with super high heels, choose a pair that also feature a platform through the front of the shoe. This offers the look of high heels, but raises the ball of the foot as well as the heel, putting less pressure on the ball overall. A three-inch heel with a one-inch platform feels more like two inches.

Choose a Comfort Brand. Thanks to innovation in footwear, it is possible to find a pair of heels that are both supportive and comfortable. Designer Cole Haan has partnered with Nike to create a line of comfy heels, while comfort brands like Clarks, Naturalizer, Aerosoles, and Sofft offer stylish pumps that won’t totally wreck your feet. Just be aware that comfortable and supportive heels often cost a premium compared to strictly style counterparts. Expect to pay $75 to $100 for an everyday pair.

Wear Heels for a Few Hours Max. I put a three-hour limit on wearing my heels, so I use them only when I know an event or occasion won’t last longer than that. If you’re going to be walking, dancing, or standing all night long, wear heels for a few hours and then switch to a stylish pair of flats. This can save your back, joints, and tender toes. You can even purchase folding flats that slip into your purse for a discreet way to change into something more comfortable as the night goes on.

Select Dressy Flats. Think you can’t wear flats for more formal occasions? Think again – embellished flats are a great alternative to high heels. I look for details such as studs, lace, or bows that dress up a pair of flats. Furthermore, flats can be really cute with dresses, skirts, and skinny jeans. However, if you hate flats, try a sleek pair of flat riding boots instead.

Add Orthopedic Pads. If your favorite heels lack support, try adding orthopedic insoles or pads. Since heels can be hard to fit, thin gel pads work wonders They’re small, but can still give you a little more support under the ball of your foot or throughout the entire sole to make heels more wearable.

Stretch Your Feet. If you find that your feet are achy and sore after a day in heels, sit on your couch and place a golf ball or tennis ball beneath your foot. Then, apply pressure on the ball as you roll it up and down your foot. It’s a great way to relieve tight muscles and tendons after a punishing day in heels.

Final Word

There might not be a substitute for the way heels make your legs look or how they make you feel when you wear them. But if your long days in heels are leaving you sore and tired, it might be time to swap your higher heels for something a bit more comfortable. After all, a lifetime of knee pain and sore ankles isn’t worth the latest in shoe fashion. Still, if you must wear your sky-high pumps, do so carefully and in small doses, and you won’t suffer the ill effects of being fashionable.

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