Avoid a High Heel Hangover

By Life Love Shopping's Rachel K for GalTime.com

The dreaded high heel hangover... The dreaded high heel hangover... Who said pain is beauty? Probably someone who's had to wear five-inch heels for longer than an hour. The truth is some fashion trends can cause damage to the body. According to Terel Newton, M.D., a Board-Certified anesthesiology and pain relief specialist physician with Pain Relief Centers, "Wearing high heels for longer than three hours a day can actually shorten the length of the Achilles tendon - and can lead to loss of motion in the feet over time."

But ladies, we don't have to give up every cute shoe in the closet. Pain Relief Centers has a few tips to put your best food forward.

  • Pick the right shoe in the right size. This can help ease the tension felt from the heel to the toes. Pain Relief Centers sees dozens of patients each week with chronic back pain and oftentimes part of a patient's treatment plan is getting into a better foundation for their feet."First and foremost, pick a pair that fits. Shoes that are too small are one of the biggest culprits of foot pain. It's amazing to learn that 88 percent of women are squeezing into the wrong size shoe. This can cause blisters, bunions and even joint damage," says Dr. Newton.

  • Time of day can affect how shoes fit. Over the course of 24 hours, feet can swell as much as 10 percent. Try shopping for shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are the most swollen, and always get a foot measurement to ensure proper size. Shoes that pinch in the store will definitely hurt worse the longer you stand in them.

Related: 11 Ways To Save Money On Shoes

  • Flats aren't always the fix. Once proper fit is in place, focus on arch support. "Many of my patients think flats are the answer, but shoes that are completely flat can lead to pain in the knees, hips and back. This can also trigger a disorder called plantar fasciitis - when the band of tissue on the bottom of the foot that runs from the heel to the toes becomes inflamed." One simple solution is orthotic inserts to create the needed arch support and put your joints in alignment.

  • The higher the heel, the greater the pressure on the ball of the foot. A three-inch heel, for example, exerts about 76 percent more pressure than a flat shoe. Every woman has her own perfect heel height, depending on the structure of her feet but generally it's between one to two inches.

Standing in lines or shopping for that perfect present for hours at a time can leave feet achy, even with the proper fit and arch support. Rotating your ankles and wiggling your toes can relax some of the tension and make it easier to be a shop-til-you-drop maven.


  • High Heels may be the most obvious offender for aching feet. "Heels can really do a lot of damage to not only your feet but your knees as well," says Newton. "Your body weight is actually shifted forward, taking the hips and spine out of alignment and causing extra strain on your knees. Stilettos have been known to lead to osteoarthritis, ankle sprains and other painful problems." So to avoid this, aim for a lower, wider heel that will more evenly distribute weight. Newton also suggests adding a cushion insert to ease any joint pain in the ball of the foot, called metatarsalgia.

Related: Kick Off Your Stilettos For A High Heel Spa Treatment

  • Flats may look like the best option, but be careful. "Most flats don't have enough arch support, leading to pain in your knees, hips and back," Newton explains. The average person takes about 10,000 steps a day. High heels shift the force of each of those steps so that the most pressure ends up on the ball of the foot and on the bones at the base of the toes. Newton says, "A good pair of shoes with healthy support, whether flat or heeled, actually serves you far better than a poorly made pair of flats."

  • Flip Flop Sandals are a warm-climate option to avoid many of the possible side effects of closed shoes that cause friction contact with the feet. "However, go for a more close-fitting, streamlined pair, ideally one with front and back straps to avoid getting tripped up and possibly injuring the ankle in a spill."

Newton says, "Bottom-line, be kind to your feet and they will be kind to you."

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