Holiday parties are all about sparkle and for many women that means cocktail dresses, bling and an elegant pair of high heels. Unfortunately, what looks great in the evening, often doesn’t feel good in the morning, especially when it comes to high heels. As a Canadian Certified Pedorthist, I’ve treated patients with foot, back and knee injuries that have stemmed from high heels and I often get asked if it’s possible to wear high heels to a party without suffering the following day and beyond.
High heels cause pain because they unnaturally force your weight onto the ball of your foot, a part of the body that is not designed to bear weight for an extended period. The pain is compounded as raising your heel shortens your calf muscles which forces the muscles in your knees, hips, pelvis and lower back, to work harder than normal to stop you from falling forward. The higher the heel the more your body is forced to compensate.
So, what’s a fashion-conscious girl supposed to do during the holiday season when glam is the theme of most social events?
To minimize the stress on your body, it’s best to wear heels that are as short and wide as possible. This means 2.5 cm or less in height and a solid base. Choose this style for as many holiday functions as possible.
If you need to be full on glam for one or two events and a 2.5 cm, wide heel simply won’t cut it, look for higher heels that have a platformed forefoot and incorporated toe spring. Heels with these features look fashionable and they also provide some cushioning to the ball of your foot.
Whether you are wearing very high heels or a lower style make sure they fit your foot’s length and shape. Heels that are too loose or too tight will cause additional injuries including corns, bunions, blisters and nerve damage.
Show stopping heels are going to hurt as they are designed for fashion, not comfort. If you must wear them for an event, keep them on for as little time as possible. Put them on as you arrive and take them off when you depart. If you’re sitting at a table for part of the evening, take them off and give your feet a break.
As a foot expert, I know high heels are not good for your feet. But as a woman I understand the need to balance style with comfort. Following the above tips will help you survive the holiday season in high style.
By Jenn Ambroise, C. Ped (C), Burlington, Ontario