There’s no denying the power of wearing high heels. They give us confidence, can take an outfit from drab to fab, and according to a study from France, men prefer women who wear high heels. But wearing high heels without pain seems next to impossible. Unless you’re wearing a 4cm block heel (does that even count?), heels hurt.
Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case. If you dream of walking in sky-high heels with ease, I’m here to tell you that there is hope. Craig Plumridge, Sports Podiatrist at Pro Feet Podiatry, shares his best tips with us on how to wear high heels without pain.
Choose the right heels
If you’re on the hunt for a new pair of shoes, keep in mind that heels which offer fixation in the form of a strap or a buckle around the ankle are easier to walk in. “Fixation reduces how hard [the] intrinsic (those within the foot) muscles have to work and will limit the likelihood of you being unsteady or falling,” explains Craig. So if you know you’ll be on your feet for a while, an ankle strap will help to prevent an embarrassing tumble.
Heels with a round backing, otherwise known as a heel counter, make them more comfortable to wear. “A shoe with a heel counter will reduce the workload for your foot throughout the day,” continues Craig.
Alternate the days you wear heels
Learn to pick your battles. Craig recommends his clients to rotate between wearing heels and more comfortable shoes. “The loads on our feet increase significantly in heels so a rotation of quality footwear (think runners and supportive casual footwear) before and after wearing heels can reduce these loads to allow our feet to handle more of these pressures when in the heels.”
Work on your foot flexibility and strength
We all wish we could do the splits, but now there’s a practical reason for why you should increase your flexibility. According to Craig, the more flexible our feet are, the easier it is to walk in high heels. “Increasing the flexibility and mobility in the foot and ankle joints allows your feet to handle a wider range of movements without the same level of pain or discomfort,” he explains. A sport podiatrist, osteopath or physiotherapist can assess your feet and help you increase your flexibility and mobility.
Foot strength is really important when it comes to wearing high heels. Strengthening the muscles within your feet with at-home exercises can make a huge difference. Craig suggests trying simple exercises such as scrunching your toes and double-leg calf raises, which help to activate supportive muscles more in day-to-day life, as well as when you wear heels.
Improve the heels you already own
If you’re looking for a quick fix there are gel pads, insoles and foot cushions to help you wear the heels of your dreams with ease. These are great for when you have an event and will keep your feet from slipping. However, they are only temporary and won’t improve your heel-wearing ability down the track. “Long term the best option is to improve your foot and ankle strength and mobility,” says Craig.