Have you ever stood up in a wedding or had some fancy event to go to and you wear high heels for the first time, well, ever? Do you recall the immense soreness and even pain that you felt in your feet, arches, calves, thighs and maybe even back the next day? Yeah, this is next-day high heel pain and it happens mostly to people who are not regular wearers of high heels, but it can happen to any person who is wearing high heeled shoes for extended time during the day. It also happens frequently when a new type or height of heel is worn, which sometimes is a surprise to avid high-heel wearing women. Is there any way to prevent this pain besides opting NOT to wear high heels? Sure there is! Here are 7 suggestions to help prevent day-after pain from high heel wearing.
1. Pick The Right Shoe
Listen ladies, you have got to pick the right shoe, no ifs ands or buts. I know that sometimes you may not have as much of an option, for example if you are a bridesmaid and your bride requested 5-inch strappy heels dyed to match that dress. However, if you are uncomfortable in that heel height, ask the bride if a shorter heel height would be acceptable. In general, shopping for high heels that won’t hurt your feet the day of or after requires getting the correct shoe – and here are the quick and dirty tips for making sure that you do:
* Shop In The Evening. Yes, your feet tend to swell up by the end of the day, and this is the best time to pick out new heels. Otherwise, mid-day those shoes are gonna pinch the holy heck out of your feet.
* Be Professional Sized. Those sales associates are trained to help figure out the right size shoe for your foot. Use them.
* Choose The Right Width. Do you have a narrow foot? A wide foot? Do you even KNOW which you have? Sales associates can help, or you can test this yourself at home by wetting your foot and stepping on a piece of paper. This also will tell you what type of arch you have.
* Get A Manageable Heel Height. Just because you like the 6-inch stilettos doesn’t mean you can walk in them. Be reasonable.
* Walk Around In Them. A lot. Put them on in the store and walk. Walk around the whole store at least twice. Sit down, take them off and then put them back on and walk around again. Trust me.
2. Break Them In
So, you have picked the best shoe for your foot via the above suggestions, and now your shoes are safely home in the box where they will sit until the day you need to wear them. NO! Absolutely not! You have to break these shoes in! This means that you should wear them. Wear them in the house, cook dinner in them, brush your teeth in them, wear them to bed (hey, that sounds fun!) In short, just break them in via wearing them. Other tips to break them in include bending the shoe’s toes inward to make it less stiff when walking. If your shoe seems a bit tight on the sides you can use this trick: fill a Ziploc bag about half way with water, then slide it into the shoe (make sure that it is sealed!) and place the shoe carefully in the freezer. The water expands, and the shoe will stretch a bit. Breaking in shoes basically means making them less tight, and also less stiff, so that when you walk in them they do not cause pain.
3. Don't Wear Them All Day Long
I know this seems counter-intuitive, but there are many times during the day when you can take off those shoes and you should! For example, if you have a job that requires a commute (car, train, bus) why not wear a comfy pair of tennis shoes or sandals and keep the heels for office only? Or, if you have a job where you sit down at a desk, take off those heels while sitting. Are you standing up in a wedding? Don’t wear them ALL day and find time to get your feet a much-needed rest. Smart heel wearing women are always toting their heels in their bags because they know the secret to next-day pain is to not wear them all day if possible.
4. Invest In Insoles
I cannot stress this enough – shoe insole inserts really do help! Even better, if you happen to have a podiatrist he or she can create special insoles just for you. Our feet are unique to us and our arches and foot sizes are not universal. Meaning, shoes need a bit of personalization to make them more comfortable. Not to mention that a little extra cushion in our shoe can make all the difference in comfort. There are a variety of insoles available at your local drug store, and even ones made especially for high heeled wearers. Using such an insole will give your foot just a bit of extra cushion and can be the difference between a pain-free next day or a pain-FULL next day.
5. Tape Your Toes
This little hack actually works and is worth a try. Take some medical tape (the kind that you get in a little roll at the drug store) and tape your 3rd and 4th toes (counting from the big toe) together. There is a nerve that runs along the foot that gets inflamed when wearing certain shoes, and taping these toes together takes pressure off of this nerve and helps to alleviate pain. Just remember that if you are wearing strappy sandals this may not look so nice.
6. Protect Your Feet
One of the worst types of pain from high heel wearing are those contact blisters that can form on the back of the heel, toes, or on the sides of the feet. These are often caused by a few different things and can be avoided altogether.
* Heel Blisters. These are often caused by shoes that are too large, too wide or too tight. Make sure you have the correct shoe and that you have properly stretched your shoe before wearing. You can use a padded band-aid or corn cushion to put some space between your foot and the shoe.
* Side Blisters. Often these are caused by the straps of the shoes rubbing against our feet, and creating painful blisters where contact is occurring. Besides making sure that your shoe fits and is properly broken in, you can also use a bit of deodorant on the inside of the strap (and on the foot itself) to help the straps glide over the foot.
* Toe Blisters. Does your shoe fit? Is it too tight? These are the culprits of toe blisters. Often the most common, they can be avoided by properly stretching your shoes, using deodorant on your toes, taping your toes, and if necessary, avoiding shoes that pinch your toes.
7. Massage & Stretch Throughout The Day
Part of what causes pain from high heel wearing is the different pressure which is put on our foot. Our arch takes a bit of a beating, our toes get squished together, the ball of our foot takes the brunt of our weight, and our heel and ankle are stretched in a way we are not accustomed to. All of this causes stretching of muscles and tendons and a generalized ache. Massaging your feet a little throughout the day, and once you have gotten home, will greatly decrease next day foot pain. Take your feet out of those shoes a few times a day and just rotate your foot, stretch your toes, rub your arches, and generally allow the foot to stretch normally. Also, don’t forget your calves either! They take a beating when you wear heels too. Stretching your calves via special exercises can help muscle fatigue.
Investing in a foot roller also helps dramatically with next day pain. These lovely little devices are made of a solid rubber, they have little protruding “nubbies” on them. You place the roller on the floor and then you roll your foot over it, allowing those protrusions to massage the muscles and arch of your foot. Combining this with a soak in warm water (or even one of those foot massaging baths) will make your feet feel amazing and decrease any pain you may feel the next day.