Most of you reading this piece most likely understand and celebrate the fact that high heels add a sophisticated and sexy touch to any ensemble. They show off toned legs and can even make them appear longer. But, if the confidence you gain is coupled with aches and pains, you may want to read on. Consistently wearing drastically angled and unsupported shoes over a prolonged period can bring about a world of issues for your feet. In fact, statistics have shown heels to be one of the biggest factors leading to foot problems in women. If you wear heels on a regular basis, you may already be familiar with the aches and pains that accompany this fashion favorite.


When you wear high heels, your foot is angled in a manner that causes unnatural bending of the toes, and can lead to ingrown toenails as well as permanent damage to tendons in the leg. If you are cramming your toes into a narrow space, existing bunions may become aggravated and nerve damage can also occur. When you wear heels that are two or more inches off the ground, you are redistributing your body weight in a way that can lead to improper alignment that may strain the knees, hips and lower back. Over time, shortening of the calf muscles and Achilles tendons, leg cramping, and plantar fasciitis are some resulting symptoms of wearing heels.


For all you heel lovers out there, don’t fret! No one is telling you to retire your stilettos. But there are some steps you can take to keep your feet in good shape. If you are going to continue wearing this style, be sure to find a pair that fits properly. How often have you worn shoes that were too big and caused your foot to slide to the top, leaving a gap at the heel? Or how many times have you crammed your toes into a pair of pointy-toed pumps? Look for a pair with a narrow heel with a snug (but not tight!) fit to prevent your foot from sliding forward. Also be cognizant of whether the front of your foot has enough room; having toes layered or squeezed together can lead to unattractive and painful conditions like “hammertoe.”


You can obtain insoles for heels – yes, they do make inserts designed specifically for these kinds of shoes. You can find all kinds of cushioning products for your high heels to provide a greater level of comfort, especially if you’re going to be standing in them for a longer period of time. Some brands even come with velcro so they can stay put in those strappy heels without sliding around. For extra cushioning for the ball of your foot, look for silicone metatarsal pads that provide padding and are super shock absorbers.


If you can, try a shorter heel. This will help with the shortening of the Achilles tendon, and help with leg cramps and pain in the arch of the foot. Additionally, look for a thicker heel, which will provide more stability by distributing the weight on your foot more evenly. For some inspiration, check out the shorter looks at Macys.


Finally, try to rotate your shoes throughout the day; for your commute to work, wear sneakers or some other comfortable shoe that provides support. This will give your back, hips and knees a chance to relax and realign.


Of course, don’t labor under the illusion that high heels are the only stylish option available to the ladies of the world. If aches and health problems persist, consider switching to a cute pair of ladylike flats or sandals with a slight platform. Remember, your footwear should boost your outfit and spirits, and not be the anchors that hold you back.