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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...

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.

5 Tips to Protect Your Feet When Wearing High Heels

We know you love your high heels, so we won't even hint at the fact that you'd be better off in sneakers.  At the same time, what good is that great pair of red patent-leather stilettos if all you can do is sit and admire them?

If you’re going to wear heels, WebMD combined advice from our two experts, along with suggestions from the American Podiatric Association, to protect your feet.

1.       Get the best-fitting high heel possible.  While this may seem like a given, stop and think: How many pairs of high heels cause your feet to slide to the front, leaving a gap big enough for a small cell phone behind your heel?  Mogul says high heels that don't fit properly cause the front of the foot to fly forward, creating more pressure -- and pain -- on toes. Look for narrow heels with a snug but not tight fit to correct the problem.

2.       Cushion, cushion, cushion. While a full-shoe insert can help, if you have pain in the ball of the foot -- or you'll be standing in your heels a long time -- invest in silicone metatarsal pads. They look like flattened gummy bears, but they do a super job of shock absorption, says Morin.  "It's like replacing the fat padding you lost."

3.       Wear a thicker heel for stability. "A thicker heel will give you better balance and may help relieve some pressure by distributing the weight on your foot more evenly, says Morin.  Alternating heel heights can also help reduce problems with the Achilles tendon.

4.       Pay attention to the "slope" or "pitch" of the heel.  While some 4-inch heels will give you a straight drop down to the flatbed portion of the shoe, others will be a more gradual slope. This may be easier on the arch, says Morin, and might help relieve some pain in the ball of the foot.

5.       Wear open-toe high heels to relieve pressure on corns and calluses. See a podiatrist to have corns and calluses professionally removed and correct the problem that’s causing them. But if that's not possible, opt for open-toe shoes to take pressure off inflamed areas.

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Reviewed on February 05, 2009

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