Style & Beauty
Wear Killer Heels without Killing Your Feet
9/9/2015 1:16:18 PM

Wear Killer Heels without Killing Your Feet

For many women, nothing makes you feel as sparkling, sexy or powerful as a killer pair of heels. Throughout the ages heels have meant prowess—even for men. Neither Marie Antoinette nor King Louis XLV would’ve been caught dead in Versailles without a glamorous pair. High heels are fashion artistry. Nothing else quite expresses your personality like the right pair. But if you’re not mindful of the pair you choose, your killer heels could kill your feet.

According to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, 42 percent of women admit to wearing heels even when it’s painful, and 73 percent admitted to already having a shoe-related foot issue.

"Any shoes that constrict the natural shape of your foot will cause discomfort, but when this pain results from wearing high heels it can lead to serious damage,” said Dr. Kalieb Pourciau, foot and ankle specialist with Center for Orthopaedics. "Not only do high heels restrict your foot, but it increases the weight you are placing on the ball of your foot, essentially crushing your toes.”

The most common foot complaints are bunions, painful bone protrusions that typically emerge from the base of the big toe and alter the shape of the foot. Bunions change the path of the foot during motion.

"While high heels are not the source of bunions, they do worsen the condition and cause further damage,” said Dr. Pourciau "If you have a bunion and still wear high heels, the foot is pushed forward, increasing pressure on the toes and causing the bunion to grow much more painful. Heels with a pointed toes can be excruciating.”

Aside from aggravating and advancing the damage of bunions, women who wear heels on a regular basis commonly experience corns and calluses, thick layers of dead skin usually found on the toes or the sides of a foot that have grown as a natural bodily defense to protect the foot from the shoe. Another more painful result is the development of a hammertoe, which causes the bone of the toe to curl under, leaving the top to rub against the shoe. Dr. Pourciau said this can be extremely painful and will continue worsen with consistent heel wearing. Surgery is often required to alter a hammertoe.

"High heels can be especially damaging as one ages, especially for women who have spent decades wearing them,” said Dr. Pourciau. "Our feet change as we age, naturally making heels less comfortable, because we lose fat deposits that protect the ball of the foot. When you place your foot in a high heel the weight is thrown of this spot that now has less protection. Not only can this be painful, but if your feet already have years of damage from heels, continued wear can put you at greater risk of stress factors and osteoarthritis.”

It’s almost impossible to get many women to ditch their heels. Can you imagine Carrie Bradshaw chasing after Mr. Big on the streets of New York without them?

Dr. Pourciau provides the following tips when shopping for your next pair of killer heels:

· Choose a pair that fits: This may seem like a no-brainer, but your size may not always actually fit. If the shoe causes your feet to slide to the front, leaving a gap in the back of the shoe, it doesn’t fit. It will place too much pressure on your toes. Narrow heels that are snug, but not tight, are your best bet.

· Evaluate the slope and pitch of the heel: Be easier on the arch of your foot. Look for heels that have a more gradual slope instead of sharp drop to the sole of the shoe. Some heels are just too high.

· The thicker the heel, the more stability: Not only will this offer more balance it will also distribute the weight of the foot more evenly, placing less pressure on the toes.

· Cushioning is crucial: A full shoe insert can help alleviate the pain, but if you wear heels frequently invest in silicone metatarsal pads.

· Open-toe heels are better: Open toes shoes will relieve the pressure placed on inflamed areas such as calluses and corns.

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