Chia Doc: High Heel Pain and Four Tips For Shoe Shopping

The pains of high heels

Tis the season for holiday parties…and aching feet.  I can’t tell you how many complaints I get this time of year from women dealing with pain after squeezing into sparkly high heels.  A study earlier this year by Britain’s College of Podiatry pinpoints exactly how long women wear heels before feeling pain.  Any guesses?

One hour, six minutes and 48 seconds.  Does that sound about right to you?

One patient asked this: “My feet hurt more now than they did before I had a baby.  Do feet change after pregnancy and will I ever be able to wear high heels painlessly again?

The short answer?  Yes and no.

Let’s start with part one of her question:  Do feet change after pregnancy?

Absolutely.  Think about it.  Increase in weight places more strain on the foot’s ligaments, especially the arch.   When ligaments stretch, your feet flatten.   I hear a lot of women say their feet grew after pregnancy.  Your shoe size goes up not because bones expand, but because the foot flattens and widens.

The majority of women experience increase in swelling during pregnancy, due to good ole gravity maintaining fluid in the feet and legs.  The can take a year or more to fully resolve and often causes discomfort.

My advice for pregnant women?  Forgo the heels and invest in supportive shoes and compression socks.  The supportive shoes prevent your arch from flattening, while the compression socks cut down on swelling.

Now onto part two of her question:  Will I ever wear high heels painlessly again?

No.  I said that before, right?  Bottom line, high heels will cause pain simply by the design of the shoe.

But, if you insist on keeping the heels in rotation, shop with these tips in mind:

1.  Look for a rigid shoe.  That means it should not bend easily in the middle.  Try twisting it.  Does it give easily?  If so, it’s a no go.

2.  Not sure what a supportive shoe feels like?
 Check out brands like Dansko or Naot.  The picture on the left shows a great shoe with a 2.5” heel.

                             Dansko 2.5" heel women's shoe   Naot 2.75" heel women's shoe

The shoe on the right above is a booty with a 2.75” heel.  Notice the front of the shoe is built up a bit as well, offering nice support.

3.  Pick a heel height and stick with it.  For example, don’t go from a completely flat heel one day to a three inch stiletto the next.  The constant change in the achilles tendon length can cause damage to the tendon.  That can lead to achilles tendonitis.

4.  A nice cushion on the ball of the foot lessens discomfort.  Add extra padding with a over-the-counter gel pad.

Want me to look at a specific pair of shoes?  Send us a picture on our Facebook page and I may use it for an upcoming post.

Until then, Shake It, Baby!

The Chia Doc