Tips

TIPS TO HEALTHIER SOLES

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Heels are bad for you. A concept that most women understand but find it difficult to follow through with changes in their footwear choices. There is often a misconception that wearing low-heeled shoes is the same as wearing rocket-high stilettos – so why not just opt for the taller version that makes our legs look longer and confidence levels higher?

That is the wrong approach ladies!

As with many things, high heels come in all shapes and sizes. More importantly they come in various heel heights. If you are going to wear heels, then you should opt for ones that have a heel height of 5cm (2 inches) or lower. Any higher and you’re really contributing to amplifying the risks of foot problems.

heel-height-appropriate

On top of HOW HIGH your heel is – another crucial aspect to keep in mind is HOW LONG you’re wearing them for. You may be wearing 5cm heels but if you do so for prolonged periods of time e.g. over 4 hours for more than 3 days a week – you are still doing irreversible damage to your entire body.

According to the American Osteopathic Association, 1 in 10 women wear high heels at least 3 days a week, and a third of them have fallen wearing them.

On top of falling, there are many other negative and unpleasant effects wearing heels can have on your body. These include:

  • Bunions
  • Back pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Plantar fascitis
  • Lower back problems
  • In-grown toe nails
  • Bad posture/balance
  • Damage to leg tendons
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Sore toes, ankles and calves

TIPS TO HEALTHIER SOLES

CHOOSE WISELY

Check the fit of the shoe to make sure it’s the right size for you and please don’t always go for those thin stilettos. Embrace lower heels that are 5cm or under or at least opt for shoes that have a wider base with room for your feet to breathe. Avoid shoes that forces your feet to squeeze tightly against each other or ones with lack of support as this can ruin the balance of your weight distribution.

MAKE THE SWITCH MORE OFTEN

Although lower heels are better than their taller counterparts, it’s still not the ideal footwear choice. Try saving heels for special occasions where there is minimal standing/walking and wear flats more often in your busy day-to-day life. If your job or situation requires you to wear heels often, try to find times during the day to slip them off to give your feet a break. Alternatively always bring a pair of flats in your bag for emergencies.

FIND SUPPORT

To all the high-heel lovers out there, invest in soft, insertable soles!  They can help with stability in ensuring your foot doesn’t slide forward constantly when you’re walking. They can also provide more cushion support which can add comfort to your walking.

-JL

THE WORST HEELS FOR YOUR FEET

Paris Fashionweek ss2014 day 5, outside Chloé, Net-a-Porter Team

Most women are guilty of owning a handful of heels in their shoe closets – more often than not, half of that heel collection is uncomfortable and painful to walk in after a few hours.

There are various types of high heels on the market – whether you’re a skyscraper stiletto devotee or the pointy-toed pumps fan, are you aware of the harm these shoes are doing to your feet? However as with most cases, certain shoes are doing more harm to your feet than others. According to The Huffington Post and FeelingFit.com, the following are some of the worst offenders.

STILETTOS

Stilettos are probably the worst offenders out of the pack. Us women always have a love hate relationships with these heels – whilst they make us look ultra glam, they also kill our feet with stabbing pain. Super high stilettos causes us to move our weight to the balls of our feet. The increase in pressure can contribute to balance issues as it forces our knees and hips forward. This in turn can also hurt our back and legs. Wearing stilettos can make you prone to ankle sprains, fractures, bunions and hammertoes.

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POINTY-TOED PUMPS

Honestly it baffles me as to why women are willing to stuff their toes into such a confined space – all for the sake of fashion and vanity? Whilst these heels can be a beauty, they can also bring a lot of damage to your feet. Neuroma, which is an inflammation of the nerves between the toes is one such condition that can result from wearing pointy-toed pumps. When the nerve becomes inflamed, it can cause pain and a burning sensation for the wearer – you would then need to seek professional help to treat the condition. Ladies if you really are adamant about this option, at least consider switching to one that has a wider toe box. The last thing your feet needs is to be squeezed in an unnatural and totally uncomfortable shape/position.

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HIGH-HEELED BOOTS

Again – high heeled booties may be a gorgeous shoe accessory in the winter months however they can also present similar issues and concerns to stilettos such as hammertoes and bunions. The general rule of thumb is that 25% of your body weight gets increased for every inch you go in heel height. If you are deadset on wearing these, at least opt for a low-heeled option (preferably two inches or below) and look for quality material shoes so that you minimise risk for foot injuries and you add more stability to your walk and balance.

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PLATFORM WEDGES

Whilst wedges can carry great heel heights, they are generally regarded as a ‘woman’s best friend’ when it comes to heels. Why? Wedge heels have more cushion and provide more room for support and protection for the ball of your feet. As the heel platform is covered in its entirety, there is also a reduction in incline which can help with restoring balance. Nevertheless it is important to keep in mind that if you do choose a soaring high wedge heel, it can still result in accidental falls, ankle sprains, neuromas (benign nerve tumours), bunions and hammertoes.

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BACKLESS MULES

Backless shoes results in your toes gripping onto the shoe for support – hello hammertoes? On top of this, you’re more prone to developing nasties such as calluses or breaks in the skin as your shoe is constantly tapping the heel. Mules not looking so hot now are they?

Gianvito-Rossi-Leather-Mule
Which high-heeld shoe above is YOUR worst shoe offender?

-JL

SHOP SMART FOR HEELS THAT DON’T KILL

The task of convincing women to forgo heels completely is no easy feat and is probably an unrealistic objective. There’s no harm in wearing heels occasionally, provided that you choose options that minimises the discomfort and potential health risks.

Often women just seek for a little boost in their height (and confidence) when they’re shoe shopping for heels. Trying on a pair of high stilletos in store generates an instant feel-good moment but often doesn’t provide enough warning of the pain and suffering that could follow. The nightmare of blisters and foot pain generally starts AFTER your puchase.

It’s time to get smarter with your heel purchases! After all, you really don’t need to kill your soles just to look good. Keep the following things in mind the next time you’re heading off to a shoe shopping spree:

SIZE CHECK

Scenario: You walk into a store and there in the corner of your eyes, you see the shoe with your name plastered all over it. Your eyes light up with excitement as you walk towards it, ready to enfoce ownership. You eagerly ask the salesperson for a pair to try in your size. She returns empty-handed and that’s when you get that sinking feeling. Yes you have anticipated correctly – your size has sold out but ah…the salesperson indicates that the size below is still available. You squeeze your feet in and immediately you know that they’re a little too tight for your liking but because you love them so much, you decide to buy them anyway. After all, shoes stretch right?

WRONG. Never buy shoes (in particularly heels) that are too small for you. There is never a guarantee that they will stretch to accomodate your feet but one thing’s certain, they’re going to hurt! There should be a thumb’s width from the front of the inside of your shoe to the end of your longest toe. This tiny bit of thumb space is the ideal wiggle room for your foot so that it can move with ease inside the shoe, rather than forcing it to create friction against the sides.

CHOOSE WISELY

Scenario: You’ve read all the blog posts from Save Your Soles and despite acknowleding all the potential health risks of wearing high heels, you still insist on buying another pair of heels to add to your collection. Sigh…we tried!

No but seriously if you are thinking of sticking to heeled shoes, at least choose the ones that don’t result in a fast demise for your feet. The following options are generally better than your high single-soled stiletto killers and can help take some pressure off your feet:

  • Platforms
  • Chunky Heels
  • Wedges
  • Kitten Heels

GOOD TIMING MATTERS

Scenario: It’s a glorious Saturday morning and you decide to go shopping for some new shoes. You happily try them all on and purchase a couple to take home. In fact you love one pair so much that you start to wear them straight away. Fast forward 5 hours of walking…your feet starts to swell up and the foot pain/discomfort kicks in. What just happened?

Your foot generally expands a bit throughout the day and this is especially the case in summer. As a result, you should try to shop for shoes towards the end of the day as buying you shoes in the morning when your feet’s at its slimmest can result in that “oh-so-tight” feeling at the end of the day. Sometimes that extra high size up can make a huge difference.

What are your shoe shopping tips? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

-JL