Recently I was at a friend’s birthday where a few of us were debating the plausibility of walking home in heels after a night of standing around. Now I love heels, high high heels. In fact the higher the better. I love the line they give the leg, I love how elegant they make me look…..what I’m having trouble with is how they feel. After years of taking ballet and wearing pointe shoes you’d think I could handle heels but lately anything fancier than a sneaker is causing me foot pain.
Style: Foot surgeons advise sticking to a height of two inches or less. Sky-high heels shift your foot forward, putting pressure on the ball of your foot—and more pressure equals more pain and chance of injury. I'll wear a little higher heel, but then I'll look for ones with a little platform in the toe-box to make the angle less steep. Styles with a T-strap or Mary Janes have the extra benefit of holding your foot in place.
This is the most important rule: Don’t buy wedding shoes unless they fit you perfectly. Just don’t! If your shoes are already too snug, you’re only asking for pain after an hour or two — or maybe less. And then you’re not only going to ache, chances are you’ll end up with a painful blister and will then fantasize about crawling around for the rest of the day — because even changing into flats is painful when you have a gnarly blister.
3. Widen the toes out with ice. When water freezes, it expands. Use this simple science lesson to stretch out your shoes. Start by filling a one-quart sized ziplock bag about halfway full of water. Then, zip up the bag and check to make sure it’s not leaking. Stick the water bag into the toe of the heel and put the entire shoe in the freezer. If you really need to stretch them out, add two or more bags into the toe box. Once frozen, the bags will expand and the shoe.
Some of you are likely now saying, "Why don't you just wear flats?" Let me tell you, I wear sneakers whenever possible, but I also like to get dressed up and wear heels sometimes! The 2017 rules of feminism definitely say that women don't ever have to wear heels, so if they're not your thing, just go for flats. I know a lot of girls, and some guys who love to wear heels, though, even at the expense of comfort.
Let's face it—my telling you not to wear heels won't convince you to stop (I wouldn't listen to me say that either), but how can you do so comfortably—and safely? As an ER doctor, I’ve treated many women with high heel-related injuries—including one who fell after getting her heel caught in cobblestones. In fact, a recent study showed that ER visits for injuries caused by heels have doubled since 2002, leading to foot and ankle sprains, fractures and other injuries.
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One of Dr. Osterman’s favorite shoe brands is Pikolinos. The podiatrist-approved line boasts options that come with cushioned forefront beds, ample room in the toe boxes, and block heels for more stability. “The wider the heel, the less one has to balance on the shoe,” Dr. Osterman explains. “Think of the heel like a stilt – the smaller the heel, the more the calf muscles have to work, which can be unstable and fatiguing.”
Heels do us all kinds of favors: They make our legs look long and slim; give us a confidence boost; and have the magical ability to transform a casual look to some serious night-out material. But, our favorite pumps also come with a rap sheet that includes blisters, a not-so-endearing tumble down the stairs, and the general feeling that beauty is, indeed, pain.
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Always keep your heels stuffed. Naturally your heels with shrink when they’re not being worn. Since you don’t want all of your breaking in efforts be in vain, keep them stuffed when you’re not wearing them. You can stuff your shoes with the shoe paper and rod that come with the shoes when you buy them. You can keep them filled with shoe trees, which are inserts molded into the shape of the inside of your high heel shoes. Or you can simply stuff them with rags.
Many women never get their shoe sizes right. Understand that over the years, your shoe size is likely to change due to various factors. If you have never had your feet sized, perhaps this is the right time to do so. Additionally, repeat this once annually or every time you are purchasing shoes. The measurements should include both width and length. Avoid buying shoes randomly without having your feet measured because different brands are differently designed.
Since water expands when it's frozen, you can use ice to stretch your shoes. All you have to do is fill two freezer bags with water, making sure to remove all the air from them before sealing. Place the bags in your shoes, then put them in the freezer. Leave them in there for 4 to 8 hours. Once the water has properly frozen, take your shoes out of the freezer and let them sit at room temperature until the ice thaws to a point where you can slip the bags out of your shoes. Voila! Your shoes should be nice and stretched for more comfy wearing.
I tried out the tip in some of my favorite pairs of heels that were all over three inches, some with big block heels and others with tiny stilleto heels. I'll spare readers pictures of my feet, but I dutifully binded my third and fourth toes first with tape and later (at the suggestion of the Bustle writer) with bandaids before slipping into my shoes.
Consider a lower or more comfortable style. Choose a thicker and more stable heel like a platform, wedge, or chunky heel to provide more support and weight distribution. Shy away from pointed-toe styles if you have wide feet or toes, opting for round or almond-shaped instead. You can also buy heeled boots or heels with ankle straps to help support your ankles.
There’s a way to walk in flats and there’s a way to strut in heels and never should the two be confused. “Heels are not sneakers — you have to carry yourself differently,” Stempien said. “Use your core muscles and stand up straight. Pretend you’re strutting your stuff on the catwalk and use your hips and legs to propel yourself forward. It should feel more like a bounce than a normal stride. Practice it at home until you’ve got it down pat — this can be one of the easiest ways to avoid pain in heels.”