Say ‘high heels’ to anyone, and you’re most likely going to get a wince and a comment along the lines of ‘yes they look great, but they really hurt.’ It’s a well known fact that most high heels are painful to wear, and they can cause damage to feet, knees and even spines if they are worn long-term.
It is, of course, down to personal choice whether or not to wear high heels in the first place. I’m someone who tends to keep high heels for days when I need to dress a little more sharply, say if I have a client meeting or am going to a party. Otherwise I tend to live in loafers or flats – I drive pretty much everywhere as well, and it’s impossible and unsafe to drive in high heels.
There will always be people who wear heels daily, and complain about how painful they are. Heels aren’t meant to be comfortable, they say. You have to suffer for fashion, they say. I completely disagree with these statements because I have found that yes, there are comfortable high heels out there.
How is this possible? I hear you cry. I’ve found, as I’ve grown up and owned and worn various pairs of heels, that it’s all down to heel placement and the actual height of the heel itself.
The higher the heel, the more painful the shoe. Now this isn’t true for every brand, I’m sure, but the general rule seems to be that the more your foot is tipped forwards by the height of the heel, the more your feet are going to hurt. I know that if there’s a six inch heel on the shoe there’s usually a platform to offset the height, but the platforms are rarely level on the sole, especially on cheaper shoes. This can cause the wearer to rock forwards on the uneven sole, putting strain on the foot and leg, the very thing the platform is supposed to be alleviating from the height of the heel! Wedges sometimes have these uneven soles as well – they may be more comfortable than a true heel, but they can cause balance issues.
As for where the heel is placed, have a look at the shoes in the photograph below. You can see that the heel isn’t right at the very back of the shoe, it’s positioned a little further in towards the arch of the foot. This gives the wearer better balance, as it’s nearer their centre of gravity. Shoes with heels like this maybe aren’t as trendy as some, but they’re better for your feet and a lot more comfortable to wear:
These are my most comfortable pair of heels, and wearing them is almost as comfortable as wearing flats. They’re slightly padded inside as well, which helps, but they’re the perfect height with the perfect heel position so that I don’t get sore feet when I wear them. They also don’t gap at the back of my leg, which is a mistake so many people make when buying high heels. If they gap at the back of your foot they do not fit you. No matter how much you like them, do not buy them. See my previous post about buying shoes that fit you for tips on how to find a pair that are actually right for your feet.
The toe of a high heeled shoe is also something to take into consideration. Pointed toe shoes are going to hurt way more than round toe shoes. Pointed toes squish your feet, round toes, not so much. Round toes don’t look as cool, though, so ultimately it’s the wearer’s decision as to how much pain they’re willing to go through for their perfect look.
But it is possible to find comfortable high heels, if you take into consideration the heel placement, heel height and the style of the toe. You might end up spending more than you normally would on them, but the investment is worth it if you’re going to wear them a lot. Shop around, try everything on, and you will find a pair of heels that won’t leave you half-crippled.
And as a final note, for added comfort, get some gel pads for the balls of your feet if you’re wearing heels regularly. Your feet will thank you for it.