Valentines Day and wearing heels
As you may be planning to wear heels this Valentine’s Day, here is some advice to consider from a foot and ankle specialist.
All feet and people are unique and will therefore be prone to different types of problems and symptoms. However, the main factors to consider when wearing heels include heel-height, heel-width (contact area), toe box space and your foot type.
Shoes vary in heel-height from a smart shoe with a 1cm heel, to a stiletto 6 inch heel or beyond. The heel-height affects the intensity of forces that act on the foot, the function, and foot position in a couple of ways:
- Transfer of weight from the rear foot to the forefoot – The higher the heel, the more weight is transferred to the front of the foot.
- The position of the foot is affected by heel height – The higher the heel, the more the foot supinates (arch height increases and foot inverts).
You will need to consider the amount of forefoot pressure that will be generated, as well as the stability of your ankles. You generally increase the risk of ankle inversion injury and forefoot pressure symptoms with increased heel-height.
- If you experience forefoot pain from wearing heels, try to wear a shorter heel than usual and consider using an adhesive gel pad under the forefoot to increase cushioning.
- Also, consider toe box space – the higher the heel, the more force is pushed to the forefoot, including the toes. If there is insufficient space in the toe boxes, you will increase pressure on the toes. This, coupled with pointy toe boxes, can exacerbate bunion deformities.
- If you have previously injured your lateral ankle ligaments, or have hypermobile or unstable ankles, consider a shorter heel to reduce instability and injury.
Heeled shoes come in different heel shapes, which offer different levels of stability:
- Wedged heels fill the gap between the heel and forefoot. These increase surface area contact with the ground, making them the more stable style of high heel.
- Wide heels, have less contact surface with the ground than a wedged heel, but offer more stability from rocking side to side than a stiletto heel.
- Stiletto heels are the pointiest of heels and have the smallest surface area contact. These therefore offer minimal stability.
- Consider how stable your feet and ankles are, and use a wedged or wide heel to improve stability.
- Weather – Raining or icy weather will decrease the friction of the ground with your shoes. Increased surface area contact will help.
- Distance – Consider the distance you will travel. Will you be in pain at the end of the evening and likely walk barefoot? Minimise the distance you must walk and wear a shoe you can tolerate.
- Extra pair – Consider carrying a small fold up pair of slip on shoes to fit in your bag if required. You could wear these to and from your date – it’s better than barefoot or creating pain or injury.
Choose your heels wisely, look after your feet, and enjoy yourselves.
Get in touch if you would like some advice or an assessment:
- – 0207 412 8882
- – firstname.lastname@example.org
- – 27 Harley Street, London, W1G 9QP
Steven Thomas, Senior Podiatrist @ Podogo