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5 tips to walk in high heels without pain, according to an orthopaedic surgeon

how to walk in high heels without pain
5 tips to walk in high heels without painGetty Images

If you are a shoe-lover, then chances are you've put fashion before comfort many times before. Lots of the most gorgeous heel designs out there seem to come with the known sacrifice that by half way through the evening, you'll be reaching for a pair of flats you've put in your bag.

High heels can be a wonderful invention — there's nothing quite like the confidence that they can give you on a night out, or the feeling of finding a pair that matches your new dress brilliantly.

So rather than making plans to donate your most beloved court heels, or writing off wedges for the summer, let's think instead of the ways that you can stay on your feet, while still wearing your favourite heels.

How to wear high heels without pain

We spoke with Dr Andrea Bianchi, a leading orthopaedic surgeon based at The Private Clinic, Harley Street, to find out the best tips on how to keep your feet pain free when wearing high heels.

  1. Make sure that your shoes fit properly

Ill-fitting and uncomfortable shoes can cause significant problems for your feet, including bunions. Dr Andrea says, "Uncomfortable footwear can induce excessive pressure on the toes by forcing the first and fifth toes towards the centre, thus compressing the other toes."

2. Don't always choose the highest option

Wearing high heels shifts your weight towards the front of your foot, and increases compression on your feet. They can also hinder the natural movement of the toes as you walk, which weakens your foot muscles and aids the appearance of bunions. For this reason, "It's best to look for heels that aren't sky high — opt more often for mid-heels with supported platforms, like wedges," says Dr Andrea.

3. Make use of an insole if you need one

Just as the eyes need glasses, the foot can require an orthotics insole. Now that we wear shoes, the foot has lost the daily training that was done once by walking barefoot. Over-the-counter orthotics, which are special shoe or heel inserts prescribed by a doctor, can help if your foot isn't properly aligned or you have fallen arches on your feet. "These are custom-made specifically for you and will ensure that your foot is well-supported," says Dr Andrea.

4. Be mindful of bunions

A bunion is essentially a deformity of the big toe - where the big toe excessively angles towards the second toe. This leads to a bony lump on the side of the foot. While some people have large bunions that cause no pain, they can still cause trouble when finding appropriate footwear. Others can have smaller bunions that can be incredibly painful and can impact their quality of life.

"Whilst traditional bunion surgery can come with extensive scarring and crutches, there is now a new minimal invasive surgery with a promise of no downtime, no metal fixtures, no scars and no pain," says Dr Andrea.

Of course, surgery isn't necessary for everyone and there are a growing number of footwear brands which cater specifically to bunions in stylish designs.

5. Think of your foot positioning

You should be mindful about distributing your weight from your heel to the front of your foot. When you wear high heels, you create pressure on the balls of your feet, so if your foot is misaligned, you will increase pain in your feet, and perhaps elsewhere in your body too. "Never squeeze your toes into heels either, as this will result in endless amounts of blisters and discomfort. If you need to, add blister plasters to your heels as a preventative measure," says Dr Andrea.


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