Urban dictionary defines “Shoeicide” as “the vain act of wearing shoes that kill your feet for the self satisfaction of looking cute!”
Many people, some doctors and podiatrists included, recommend that women should not wear heels altogether because they will cause damage to their feet! We do not agree. As a general rule, if shoes are chosen that fit well, and they are worn properly, then it is possible to wear those gorgeous heels and strut them in style without killing your feet!
Here are some tips to help:
- Choose the best fitting high heels possible. A shoe that is too big will allow your foot to slip forward and will put undue pressure on your toe box, crowding your toes, increasing friction against the loose fitting shoe, and causing corns and calluses, and more severe damage over time.
- Interestingly, nine out of 10 women wear shoes that are too small for them. This puts pressure on all parts of your foot and can cause a series of problems, from calluses to blisters and corns, to arthritis over time! It is best to buy shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are the most swollen. Also, pay more attention to the fit of the shoe rather than the size of the shoe! Every shoe fits differently, so you may need to go up or down in size based on the fit.
- Padding always helps! It is true that the same fancy shoes feel less comfortable as we age! This is because the fatty padding at the ball of our feet decreases with age as we put pressure on it and wear it out over the many steps that we take over the years. There are a variety of options, such as a metatarsal pads filled with silicone that can be placed in the shoe and help with shock absorption.
- Heel thickness matters! The thicker the heel of the shoe, the more stability it gives your foot. One of the main “foot killers” is twisting your ankle when wearing high heels. Thicker heels are more stable and reduce the likelihood of spraining your foot. Stilettos are much less stable and are more likely to cause you to trip and sprain your ankle or cause other foot problems — so take special care when walking in stilettos.
- Alternate the heel height of your shoes! Some believe that always wearing tennis shoes and flats keeps your foot more healthy. However, always wearing the same heel height causes shortening of the Achilles tendon (the long tendon that stretches from the heel to the back of your knee) – the antithesis also holds, that if you always wear heels, then this tendon is kept in a shortened form, and will cause stiffness. It is best to wear a variety of heel heights to keep that tendon working at various degrees of stretch and thus more flexible!
- Pay attention to the slope of the heel. Shoes with very high heels that have a sharp slope down to the toe area, put more pressure on the ball of your foot. Shoes with a softer angle more evenly distribute your weight over the length of your foot, and cause less wear and tear! Also, high heel shoes that keep your foot in a “natural” foot position cause less strain on your foot by not putting pressure and friction on parts of your foot not used to that position.
- Heels with open toes are easier on your feet. They avoid the crowding, pressure and friction on your toes if there is no shoe covering them.
- Avoid the pump bump! That’s the painful knot that develops at the back of the heel from wearing high heels that don’t fit properly. It gets progressively worst starting with redness and irritation to blisters, swelling, bursitis and pain in the Achilles tendon (which passes through that area).
- The most recommended heel height (if you want to wear heels) is 2”.
- Very flat shoes are not good either!! Some believe that the flatter the shoe (like ballet flats), the better it is for your foot. That is not true! These shoes do not offer any cushioning, have no arch support, and in severe cases when worn too often can lead to knee, hip and back problems and plantar fasciitis.
- Orthotics can help! Prescription orthotics can be ordered by your podiatrist to fit inside your dainty heels. This can ease pressure and spread your weight better over the length of your foot while you are wearing your heels, and immensely decrease the risk of damage to your feet.
- Flip flops are a flop!! Another common misconception is that flip flops are easy on your feet. First off, they offer minimal protection for your feet, leaving them exposed to splinters and other foot injuries. Second, they provide no arch support. And third, when you walk with flip flops your toes have to work extra hard to grip to the flip flops with every step that you take, and cause undue strain on your joints. Now we are not saying never wear flip flops, but if you do want to wear flip flops for extended periods of time, it is best to choose a style that offers more support — in the arch as well as in the straps to hold to your foot.
- Platform and wedge shoes are not the best alternative. An advantage of platforms is that you can wear a higher heel but have a smaller slope to the toe box because of the platform. But platform shoes and wedges tend to have a rigid foot bed which does not allow the foot to bend and straighten when you walk normally. This may throw off the biomechanics of the foot. A better option is a flatter platform that keeps your foot more parallel to the floor.
- Choose pointy toed shoes that are less pointy or start getting pointy beyond where your foot sits in the shoe and have a softer leather. This will lessen the squeezing of the front of your feet together, and lessen the chance of nerve pain, bunions, blisters, hammertoes, calluses and bruising of the toenails.
- Performance Pumps: are made with all these issues in mind! They are a great choice for women you have to wear heels every day!
The best advice is to wear a variety of shoes to keep your foot flexible and avoid the constant pressures on the same parts of the foot when you wear the same type of shoe all the time. It is also a great idea to stretch and massage your foot. And when you want to wear those killer heels, choose the right fit, pad where you need more support and look good and feel good too!