Is it just me, or has the phenomenon around Sex and the City taken the popularity of high heels and skyrocketed them to new heights? More then ever, high heels have become a fashion statement unto themselves, with each season bringing about more shocking, more vibrant, and more amazing shoes than their predecessors.
But a three or four inch shoe can be daunting. And many cannot even begin to fathom the greater heights, as we push ourselves in to 4 1/2, 5, or 6 inch heels. With the pursuit of vanity (and great gams) comes warnings, fears, and frights.
Basics for Beginners
If you’re just starting out, chances are that after your first day in a higher heel, your tendons, the ball of your foot, and ankles may be sore. I recommend having shoes of a variety of heights, and switching them out throughout the week. Start with a moderate heel (2.5″), and then the next day work up to a 3.5″ heel. Follow it up with a flat if your feet are feeling strained– if they’re not, try taking it up to a 4″! Be sure to follow this day up with a pair of flats, to give yourself time to rest and adjust. By rotating shoes in your daily routine, you’ll also help prevent the shrinkage of your Achilles’ Tendon!
Every thing is in the fit! Experts agree, you need: enough room for your piggies to wiggle around; a toe box that is not too snug; make sure your heel isn’t slipping out of the back (I find this can be a result of the shoe’s arch and height, as well. If it’s not a fit issue, try the Dr. Scholl’s stick’ems.). To make sure you’re getting these all right, walk around a LOT!
And don’t forget– most leather shoes CAN be stretched a certain amount in the footbed… so if they’re a wee too snug and you can’t live without them, take them to a good cobbler! (You should love your shoes enough to take them to a cobbler anyhow.) This is extra important because as you walk and distribute your weight, your toes need to be able to spread enough to take shock and place the weight on the ball of your feel.
It’s all a balancing act! One of the most common problems (I know I’m guilty of it as well), is learning how to shift your balance. If you were to stand upright barefooted, most of your weight would be on the your heels. This does not change if you are in heels!
Tricks of the Trade
The Breast of the shoe is the inner arch where the stiletto meets the bottom of your foot. This area affects stability; the farther forward the arch is, the more stability you will have.
Insolia offers “Weight Shifter” inserts, which help redistribute the weight back off the ball of your foot and back on to the heel.
Strengthen your muscles! Thanks to my male friend & his Wii Fit, I’m convinced that the “Palm Tree” pose in Yoga is an excellent means of developing your balance and strengthening your ankles and stretching your spine. Directions on how to do this pose. For a variation, you can always keep your feet together.
Other recommended techniques**:
For stronger ankles, stand next to a wall, extend one leg in front of you, and circle your foot at the ankle in both directions. Repeat 10 times per foot. Use a calf machine or a step to raise yourself on to your toes, hold, and lower; this will strengthen your calves and Achilles Tendon.
For stronger toes, place a corks between them and squeeze as tightly as possible for 10 seconds. Similarly, to tighten your arches, place marbles on the ground and pick them up with your toes. Deposit in to a bowl. Be sure that you are sitting while you do this, or you’re likely to injure yourself more than if you’d worn heels in the first place.
** Techniques recommended from “In Style Magazine, October 2006.”
Not So Pretty, Nitty Gritty
One of the biggest concerns against heels is the potential for foot damage. When the foot is forced in to the upright position over a long-term, the Achilles Tendon has the potential to shorten. This may cause the wearer to feel discomfort when the wear flat or low heels (in this position, our tendon is longer). There are doctors who say that if you can limit yourself to wearing heels for less than 12 hours a day, and wearing supportive shoes, like sneakers, the remainder of the time, you’ll decrease the likelihood of this happening.
An improperly designed toe box can cause the toes to cram together. This can lead to blisters, corns, bunions, hammer toes, and other long-term ailments. So make sure your toes have room to lay in their normal position to decrease this happening. Give those piggies wiggle room!
According to our good friend Wikipedia, “…a few podiatrists recommend well-constructed low to moderate heels for some patients. It appears a slight elevation of the heel improves the angle of contact between the metatarsals and the horizontal plane, thereby more closely approximating the proper angle and resulting in proper weight distribution of a medium-to-high-arched foot.”
Extras for Experts:
I practice running (yes, running) in a new pair of heels. Nothing fancy, or really more than a real sprint, but I ALWAYS make sure I can do a little jog in them. I like to practice this in the kitchen. (But then again, when I was younger, and more idiotic, I would often pretend I was the Karate Kid in my platforms.)
Anything I am missing, cher? Any fool proof tips of the trade that you’ve found to be a godsend when it comes to your favorite footwear?