Be sensitive about high heels
I spend a lot of time educating my patients about footwear that is appropriate for them and dress shoes, especially high heels, are one of the hot topics. I love shoes and I wear high heels but as a foot care professional I know the damage they can cause so I wear them in moderation and I always take into account my individual foot mechanics. When it comes to counseling my patients about dress shoes, I tell them to follow the same advice; be sensitive about how much time they are wearing high heels and consider their own foot shape and limitations.
If you wear high heels to a job where you will be sitting at your desk and only doing limited walking throughout the day, high heels are not as big an issue. However, if your job requires you to stand on your feet most of the day or your trip to work involves a lot of walking you need to be very careful when you wear high heels.
I tell my patients to wear a pair of flat, supportive shoes to work and to put their heels on when they are arrive. However, this precaution is often not enough. To minimize the potential pain and injury caused by high heels, I counsel my patients to be very selective when they are purchasing high heels. Here are the shopping tips I share with them:
- Begin by looking at the difference in height between your heel and the ball of your foot (this is known as the heel to ball differential). The greater the differential, the greater the force on the ball of your foot which means you’re at a greater risk of pain and injury.
- Next look to see if the shape of the heel gives you the balance and stability you need. Heels with a platform forefoot and incorporated toespring are a good choice as they are sleek and stylish and provide cushioning to the ball of the foot.
- Then check to see if the shape and fit of the shoe matches your foot.
◊ If you have a square foot you require heels that have a square toe box;
◊ If your second toe is longer than your big toe, you’ll need a toe box with a more generous length;
◊ If you have a narrow heel and a wide forefoot look for high heels with a strap to keep your heel in place.
- If you have bunions, hammertoes or any bony prominences look for high heels that have stretchy panels or straps and avoid those that have seams or stitching across any of your sensitive areas.
If you don’t know what type of high heels are right for your foot type and conditions ask your Canadian Certified Pedorthist for advice. Your Pedorthist will also let you know if a custom foot orthotic, designed to fit discreetly into your high heels, will provide you with extra support, cushioning and comfort.
By Jennifer Krulicki, C. Ped (C), New Hamburg, ON