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10 tips for preventing foot pain from high heels

WebMD Feature
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

Those of us who've limped home from a night out barefoot with stilettos in hand know the agonies that high heels can bring.

Killer heels can be challenging to wear, but they can also make us feel confident, more attractive and sexier. For some, a going out outfit just isn't complete without a pair of heels.

Even so high heels can be a pain. A College of Podiatry survey found that if wearing heels, on average women start to feel pain after 1 hour and 7 minutes! One in 5 women starts to feel pain after just 10 minutes.

High heels can alter body posture and increase the pressure on the foot, ankle and knees not to mention causing corns, calluses and blisters.

So what's the answer? Nice sensible lace-ups or a pair of trainers with that party dress? I think not. If you really want to keep wearing high heels how can you limit the pain?

1. Size matters

If you wear a shoe that's too small it'll squash your toes and cause blisters at the heel. A high heel that's too large will mean your foot slips forward putting more pressure on your toes as you try to grip the sole of the shoe to keep them on. Get your feet measured you may be surprised. If you were a size 5 at 18 years old you may be a size 6 at 40 as feet can change size as you get older. Don't be tempted to buy bargain shoes that don't quite fit, and if you buy shoes online send them back if they don't fit like a glove.

2. Pick a thicker heel

Very thin stilettos are more difficult to walk in and can cause more problems than those with a thicker heel. The thinner the heel the less stable you are so you are more likely to twist your ankle or have a fall.

3. Cushion it

Cushioned insoles can help make high heels a more comfortable bet. They distribute the weight more evenly and give extra cushioning so there's less pressure on the soles of the feet.

Ball of foot cushions are made of foam, gel or silicone and are put in the shoes under - you guessed it - the ball of the feet. They cushion the part of your foot that gets the most pressure from wearing high heels. They also stop your foot slipping forward.

"High heels cause pain because of the physics of force over time on the vulnerable metatarsal pad. The nerves to the toes are especially vulnerable and a trapped or pinched nerve can make life miserable in the form of a neuroma," says Emma Supple consultant podiatrist and spokesperson for the College of Podiatry.

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