Sure, your favorite strappy stilettos or those new high-heeled boots aren’t the most sensible shoes you own, but you’re committed to the discomfort you have to deal with whenever you slap them on your feet.
After all, no one ever wore high heels because they’re a practical shoe choice. But what’s often overlooked when we step into a steep pair of shoes, is the chain reaction it causes throughout nearly every muscle in our bodies.
“While high heels look nice and are stylish, when you're wearing them, it's not the ideal posture pattern for your entire body,” said Dr. Todd Sinett, chiropractor and author of 3 Weeks to a Better Back. “You are putting pressure in areas that the body wasn’t meant to handle.”
In other words, when you’re walking around in a pair of high heels, you’re putting an unnatural strain on your feet, muscles and joints, and in the long-term it can potentially cause damage. Not to mention, it’s certainly not ideal for those who frequently participate in any kind of athletic endeavor.
So, what’s a girl who loves both her chic shoes and high-intensity sports to do?
Sinett said there are actually few things you can do to help alleviate the effects of wearing high heels.
First, if you can bear it, don’t wear your sky-high shoes all of the time.
“When you take a break from heels, you're allowing the body to rest, recuperate and recover,” he said. “And this includes your joints, ankles, knees and hips.”
Shop for Shoes that Fit You Right
“Both the right and left heel should age and wear down at the same rate,” Sinett explained. “If they don’t, it tells you that your body isn’t aligned and perhaps these shoes aren’t right for you.”
He also mentioned the importance of paying attention to how certain shoes make you feel.
“Pay attention to how your feet, knees, back and legs feel when you wear heels as well as the day after," Sinerr said. "If the shoes aren’t right for you, your body will tell you.”
Switch Up Your Style
“Wearing different types of heels allows your feet not to get stuck in a rut,” Sinett said. “If you tend to only wear one type of heel, it places undue pressure in only one area, which can lead to foot pain and shortens tight muscles, so mix it up.”
As if you needed another reason to invest in a few more cute pairs of kicks, right?
Opt for Shoes With Straps
“A supported or cupped heel is better than a heel that is unsupported,” Sinett explained. “The straps are able to lock the foot into the shoe, providing support.”
Invest in Orthotics
Sinett said if you tend to wear your shoes down unevenly — meaning, for example, your left shoe always tends to be more worn down over time compared to your right — then you may want to consider getting orthotics.
“They customize your shoes so that your feet strike properly,” Sinett explained. “They make really great small leather orthotics now that allow you to not give up your favorite shoes. I recommend a company called Foot Levelers — they make orthotics specifically for women’s dress shoes.”
Pack a Pair of Sneakers
Sinett’s final offering of advice: if you know you’ll be walking a lot, pack your heels in your bag and lace up a pair of good walking shoes for while you’re in transit.
“Change into your awesome heels later,” he said. “And if you know you are going to be wearing shoes that may not be the most comfortable, make sure that the next couple of days you recover by wearing shoes that are quite comfortable.”