While Carrie Bradshaw and the rest of her lady friends on Sex And The City make walking in heels 24/7 look like a cakewalk, in real life we should know better. According to a recent survey released by the College Of Podiatry, 2,000 women (and men!) reported foot pain within an hour of wearing their heels. At least 20 percent reported that the pain begins within 10 minutes and a third reported walking home barefoot after a night of dancing.
The best way to kill the foot pain is to simply not wear heels. But, who (us included!) is going to do that? Instead, we reached out to Dr. Rock Positano, Director of the Non-Surgical Foot And Ankle Service Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, for the do’s and don’ts when it comes to wearing some of our favorite heels.
DO always purchase your heels later in the day and not early in the morning.
“Your foot is at its most swollen point early in the morning and you won’t get as a good a fit as say, later in the afternoon,” explained Dr. Positano.
DON’T wear heels that are 3-inches or higher for long periods of time.
If you’re going to wear that shoe, try to sit down longer and not walk around constantly. The ideal height you should stick with is 1-2 inches, recommends Dr. Positano.
DO get your feet measured consistently.
“Almost 90 percent of women are wearing shoes that are at least one to two sizes too small,” Dr. Positano says. As strange it sounds, your foot size will change more than once throughout your lifetime, especially right after you’ve had a baby.
DON’T be a member of the Cinderella Complex party.
“The Cinderella Complex is when women do things like try to fit a size 9 foot into a size 7 shoe,” explained Dr. Positano. “When you do this with high heels, you’ve got a prescription for disaster.”
DO soak your feet in cold water every night.
If you are suffering from swollen, painful feet, soak your feet or run cold water over them for about 10 minutes. “I recommend this for patients who are very active because it helps to reduce inflammation and swelling in the feet,” Dr. Positano said.
DON’T wear high, narrow pencil-thin heels or straps that cut into your feet.
Besides the fact that these type of shoes can give you the worst foot pain ever, after wearing them for long periods of time, they can also lead to serious heel, calf, hip and lower back problems, Dr. Positano says.
DO wear wedges. Dr. Positano recommends changing up the type of heels that you wear and wedges are another comfortable option to give you the length and feel of a heel, but with more support.
DON’T let shoes continue to chaf and rub the back of your foot.
If you notice that your heel is rubbing the back of your foot, apply a Telfa Bandage to that area to keep the skin covered. Excessive rubbing can lead to painful cuts and Pump Bump, which is an enlargement of the bone in the back of the foot, Dr. Positano explained.
DO wear leather heels.
Leather is the best material for your feet when it comes to wearing heels because it can expand and gives your foot breathing room, Positano says. Don’t try to pinch pennies when it comes to purchasing these heels. Positano recommends fashion brands such as Prada and Roger Vivier as the ideal.
DON’T wear plastic heels.
The exact opposite of leather heels, plastic allows no room for breathing and if your feet starts to sweat, they can become irritated and contact dermatitis (i.e. a really nasty rash) can develop. So, retire the jellies and plastic stripper shoes in the back of your closet, please.
How to Walk in Heels: Lessons from the Stiletto Whisperer
High heels can be a quick and easy way to dress up your outfit, but Victor Chu, a former footwear designer in New York dubbed the “stiletto whisperer” claims most women are wearing them incorrectly. “Women think heels are sexy because men think they’re sexy,” he told the New York Post. “But, you see a woman wear this pained expression and shuffle. I’ve seen guys giggle at them – it’s not sexy. Bottom line is, you need to be fit to walk in heels with stability.”
Chu once developed comfortable shoes for Uggs and Reeboks, and teamed up with dancer CeCe Chin in 2006 to create the high-heel fitness routine, Legworks. This summer he created a series of personalized classes in New York for women to perfect their walk in their high heels. We reached out to get the inside scoop and tips on how to properly walk in high heels with minimal pain.
“We tell [students] to bring two pairs of heels to the class: ones you wear everyday and the ones that you want to wear,” Chu told Yahoo! Shine. The private classes start at $50, and Chu tells Shine that 60% of the class is perfecting your walk. “New York City is the capital of high heel shoes and fashion,” Chu told Yahoo! Shine. “Out of anywhere in the country, women wear heels everyday here. It’s easier for guys when they get dressed up because they just put on their dress shoes and start walking. There are essentially built in problems with heels and this is the main reason why we offer the course.”
A recent survey released by The College of Podiatry, more than 40% of women say they suffer through the pain of wearing heels for the sake of fashion. Most women report that heels start to hurt their feet after an hour and six minutes of wear, while 20 percent say that they can feel the pain after just 10 minutes. According to researchers at the University of Portsmouth, heels can change the way the entire body moves, including the pelvis, hips, legs, knees, feet and even shoulders, to emphasize femininity. The researchers, whose study appears in the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behaviour, say men rate women wearing heels as more attractive then those wearing flat shoes. Chu feels all types of women young and old could benefit from his classes, and that no one should be bashful about coming in. “We have a lot of overweight women who take the class, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to wear heels,” he told Shine. “It’s just a matter of adjusting the heel height and type of shoe. We don’t criticize or make anyone feel unwelcome.”
For those who can’t attend Chu’s personalized classes, the footwear expert shared five tips you can incorporate into your heel-wearing lifestyle today:
1. Make sure your heels really fit.
Often we force our feet into improper shoes because we bought the wrong size or a style that isn’t comfortable or stable. “There are literally thousands of styles to choose from,” Chu advised when asked about shopping for heels. “A good fit means that it’s snug on your foot. if you have wobbling at the ankles or the fit is bad, go for more coverage around the foot like thicker straps instead of thin straps.”
2. Check your soles.
Make sure that the sole of the shoe is completely flat to the floor and doesn’t tip over or wobble. “This will help to give you a lot of stability,” he said. “Avoid those shoes that have a ‘boat bottom,’ meaning it’s not completely flat to the surface of the floor.”
3. Improve your core.
“It will give you tons of control when you’re walking, and that’s important for keeping your back straight and providing stability and control when walking,” said Chu.
4. Posture is everything.
Remember to keep your head up high and your shoulders back.
5. Look straight ahead.
When walking down the street, always be aware of what’s ahead of you at least 1/3 of the way down the block. “Look ahead, not down,” Chu said. “If you’re looking down, this means your shoes don’t fit well. There shouldn’t be anything hurting or pinching.”