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Women's Health

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Tips to Avoid Foot Pain From High Heels

Experts discuss foot care techniques to cope with the painful consequences of wearing high heels.

High Heels and Midlife Crisis continued...

Feet change with age, say experts, and some of those changes can make wearing high heels a lot less comfortable. One of the most common: a loss of fat in the bottom of the foot.

"As you age, you lose some of the fatty deposits that normally protect the ball of the foot -- and some of it also slides forward towards the toes," says Morin.

When we slip our feet into those strappy stiletto sandals and step down, he says our weight is thrown on the spot where we have less protection.

"In extreme cases you actually have the bony ends of the foot grating down into the sole of the shoe with almost no protection at all," he says.

Not only does this cause pain, but it may also increase your risk of stress fractures and osteoarthritis in the feet.

And while some doctors attempt to repad the foot using injections of silicone or wrinkle filling injections like Restalyne, both Morin and Mogul say it's not a good idea.

"These injectables are not meant to withstand the pressure of body weight; they don't last and they tend to move around from the weight," says Morin.

Moreover, the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society warns women against these and other strictly cosmetic procedures for the feet. Calling the trend alarming, they warn consumers that risks -- including infection, nerve injury, and difficulty walking -- frequently outweigh benefits.

A much better idea for bottom-of-the-foot pain, says Morin, is the use of heavily padded insoles. "They act as a buffer between your foot and the ground, and that's all you really need."

And finally, if you've worn primarily high heels for most of your life, you may experience shrinkage of the Achilles tendon, the area that runs from the back of the heel to the calf. This can result in pain when wearing a low-heel shoe or even the inability to walk barefoot.

The antidote here: Stretching exercises like runners do. In rare instances, Mogul says you may need surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendon.

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