A study done at Bucknell University found that women in high heels are perceived as being more sexually attractive, physically attractive, feminine, and of a higher status.
These findings can potentially have an effect on your day-to-day shoe decision-making process.
But before you reach for your tallest pair of stilettos, check out what board certified podiatrist and foot surgeon at SOLE Podiatry NYC and star of TLC’s ‘My Feet Are Killing Me’, Dr. Brad Schaeffer, has to say to avoid the havoc heels can cause.
A study done at Bucknell University found that woman in high heels are perceived as being more sexually attractive, physically attractive, feminine, and of a higher status
Before you reach for your tallest pair of stilettos, board certified podiatrist, foot surgeon, and star of TLC’s ‘My Feet Are Killing Me’, Dr. Brad Schaeffer, reveals everything you need to know
Fit is crucial
Almost all of us are guilty of choosing beauty over comfort and squeezing our precious tootsies into a pair of trendy shoes without thinking about the consequences.
According to the doctor, Ill-fitting shoes can cause injuries and long-term issues.
‘You should have a bit of extra wiggle room (between a quarter inch and half an inch of space) in the front so that your toes are not scrunched together.
‘You also want to make sure that you choose the size based on your largest foot since most people have one foot that is slightly larger than the other.’
Shoes that are too small or too big can wreak havoc on feet.
‘Tight heels can lead to friction and poor circulation. Conversely, heels that are too loose, can cause your foot to slide around within the shoe.
‘This can also cause friction-related problems and can do a number on your toes due to them repeatedly bumping into the front of your shoes.’
Models stormed the catwalk at the Georges Hobeika Haute Couture Spring Summer 2023 on Monday January 23 in platform stiletto heels that measured at least 5 inches
Stay closer to the ground, your feet will thank you
Models stormed the catwalk at the Georges Hobeika Haute Couture Spring Summer 2023 on Monday, January 23 in platform stiletto heels that measured at least 5 inches tall.
While the super high platform has become very popular with the fashion set, they are not for everyday, all-day wear.
‘The higher the heel, the more strain they tend to put on your feet,’ shares Dr. Brad.
‘Some extremely high heeled shoes put one’s feet in a straight drop down to the flatbed portion of the shoe.’
If you’re new to walking in heels, the doctor and television star recommends a pair under three inches.
You get what you pay for – design and quality matter
Unlike other fashion categories, buying a fast fashion shoe could potentially cause health problems.
‘Quality matters, opt for breathable materials that will prevent your feet from sweating too much, which can lead to friction and can ultimately cause painful sores or blisters.
‘If you’re choosing leather heels, make sure to choose a higher quality leather. Heels that are made from lower quality, plastic-like materials make it harder for your feet to breathe. They also tend to be less flexible, which can lead to cuts and irritation.’
The podiatrist and surgeon recommends thicker heels (on platforms or wedges) as opposed to thin stilettos for comfort, support and stability.
Common problems caused by heels
‘One of the most common foot problems that I see in my office with women who wear heels often is Plantar Fasciitis, which is essentially an inflammation of the heel of your foot,’ said Dr. Brad.
‘We all have a rubber band-like structure, called the plantar fascia, on the bottom of our feet that attaches our heel bone to the front of our foot.
‘When the plantar fascia becomes too tight, it can become inflamed and is very painful,’ he explains.
Models walked the runway during the Louis Vuitton Womenswear Fall/Winter 2022-2023 in sneaker slides
Mix it up and rotate your footwear
Dr. Brad believes that heels should not be worn for long periods of time.
‘It’s always a good idea to alternate between heels and flats or lower heels throughout the week to give your feet a rest.
‘Try switching your shoes throughout the day so that you’re not putting pressure on the balls of your feet, your arches, or your heels.’
Fortunately, in a post-covid world, stylish shoes are not limited to high heels.
The luxury designer sneaker market is booming and shows no sign of slowing down, with models walking the runway during the Louis Vuitton Womenswear Fall/Winter 2022-2023 in sneaker slides.
For those that commute to work, the ‘My Feet Are Killing Me’ star suggests wearing sneakers or shoes with a thick sole, shock absorption and good arch support, to and from the office.
Happy feet require comfy toes
‘No matter the height or pitch, the key is that you want the toes and front of your feet to have enough room to be comfortable, while the heel is being held snugly at the back of the shoe,’ says the podiatrist.
‘And I can never repeat this enough: your arches must be supported! The biggest problem with slope and pitch is ball of foot pain and associated fat pad atrophy.
‘Another issue can be neuromas! This is a pinched nerve due to tight or poor fitting shoes/heels.’
For those that commute to work, Dr. Brad suggests wearing sneakers or shoes with a thick sole, shock absorption and good arch support, to and from the office. Pictured: Louis Vuitton
Wait until the end of the day to shop for shoes
They say shoes are like desserts, there’s always room for one more. And while shoe shopping can sometimes provide an instant dopamine rush, you may want to consider when you shop for them.
‘To make sure you are buying a shoe or heel that fits properly, consider shopping later in the day, after you’ve been on your feet for a while.
‘This will give you a more accurate representation of the size of your foot,’ says the doctor.
‘Never buy a heel with the intent of “breaking it in.” That usually just means that the fit is not ideal. Trust your gut – your feet will thank you!’
Walking in heels is a workout, stretch it out
‘It may seem obvious but massaging and stretching your legs and feet at the end of the day helps,’ said the expert.
‘For pain in your toes, rub in between each toe, it can help with circulation and usually alleviates some of the pain.
‘Heels also cause a lot of strain on your tendons and your calf muscles so stretching those areas can help as well.’
To reduce inflammation, he recommends icing your feet for 5-20 minutes a day. To relieve sore muscles, draw a warm foot bath with Epsom salt, or apply a topical pain-relieving medication with a cooling ingredient like menthol or eucalyptus.
Cushioning for the win
Fashion rules state that shoes can make or break an outfit and that’s especially true if you’re in excruciating pain.
‘Investing in some cushions and insoles can let you be stylish without compromising on comfort,’ said the podiatrist and foot surgeon who favors Dr. Scholl’s products.
‘Cushions for the balls of your feet like Dr. Scholl’s® Stylish Step® Ball of Foot Cushions for High Heels are a great option. They can support your feet and help you avoid unnecessary friction. They can also help prevent chaffing and painful blisters or bunions.’
‘Dr. Scholl’s® Stylish Step® Invisible Cushioning Insoles for High Heels have a cushioned arch support that helps shift pressure off the ball of the foot and flexes with every step. The invisible gel is discreet and perfect for open-toe heels or sandals.’