For many women, high heels represent success, beauty, and confidence. But did you know that wearing a heel over 3 inches increases the pressure on the ball of your foot by seven times and changes the dynamic posture of the entire body? We may love the way we look in our stilettos, but the sigh of relief when you kick them off at the end of the night speaks for itself. What if there was a way to wear high heels without the pain all night and afterward? Keep reading to learn more about the top 3 ways to reduce the pain from wearing high heels.
Impact of High Heels On Your Body
Although highly fashionable, wearing high heels typically comes with quite the risk, as those who are new to heels have an increased risk of falls, leading to fractures, sprains, and strains. The regular use of high heels can impact your body in the long term by increasing the risk of bunions, hammertoes, shortening of the calf muscles, and Achilles tendinitis. In the short term, wearing high heels increases the stress on the ankle joint, anterior knee, and low back, all while increasing the stretch on the plantar fascia.
How To Wear High Heels Without Pain
1. When In Doubt, Stretch It Out
If you want to wear a pair of high heels to a special event, add stretching to your getting-ready routine. There are three important muscle groups that are impacted by wearing high heels: calves, quads, and hip flexors. You can avoid any mid-party calf pain by stretching your calf muscles in a runner’s lunge before you put on your shoes. You can then lower your knee to the ground and shift your weight forward into a low lunge to stretch your hip flexors. Next, shift your hips back and straighten the front leg, bringing you into a half-split stretch. Finish your pre-event stretching by standing up tall, then lift your ankle and bring it close to your glutes, feeling a stretch in your quads. To further reduce your likelihood of pain after wearing high heels, you can also perform these stretches at the end of the night.
2. Improve Ankle Mobility
With all the stress put on your ankle, working to improve your ankle mobility will help to reduce pain after wearing high heels all night. You can do this before and after your night out by performing an ankle-knee drive against a wall. Step your foot about six inches from the wall and bend into your right leg, keeping your heel planted firmly on the ground. When your heel pops up, you can begin the stretch again with the intention of bending your knee closer to the wall while keeping your heel on the ground.
3. Use a Foam Roller & Tennis Ball
At the end of the night, you might still feel a little discomfort depending on the height and width of your heels. Use a foam roller on your calves to reduce tension and tightness that comes from the position of your feet in high heels. It also works to improve your ankle mobility and will also reduce your risk of soreness the next day. If your feet feel any discomfort or pain by the end of the night, you can also roll a tennis ball or golf ball on the pad of the foot for a plantar fascia massage.
The Physical Therapist’s Recommendation for High Heels
Wedges are the best of both worlds – they allow you to keep your sense of style while preventing the risk of injury or pain. We recommend wearing wedges as they give more support to the arch of the foot to distribute the pressure on the plantar fascia. Keep in mind that even with wedges, the higher the heel, the more the biomechanics of your posture and gait change, which could have serious effects on the long-term health of your muscles. The most important thing to remember is to stretch your calves, move your ankles, and roll out the plantar fascia after your night out to prevent any pain or reduce your risk of injury.
When Physical Therapy Can Help With High Heel Pain
If these exercises don’t help to reduce your pain or soreness during or after wearing high heels, contact Performance Physical Therapy at 401.726.7100. Our experienced physical therapists in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts can help you create an individualized plan for plantar fasciitis or to help strengthen your ankles, calves, and hips.