Heels may look beautiful, but they are incredibly painful and can even be bad for your health. And the higher the heels, the bigger the impact. According to a 2014 survey by the American Pediatric Medical Association, high heels were by far the most common cause of foot pain among women.
Wearing high heels forces your ankles to bend forward, puts excess pressure on your knees and hurts your back, among many other dangerous side effects. But avoiding heels is not always the answer. Here are a four things you can do to help ease the pain of high heels. Your feet will thank you.
Use Gel Insoles
Putting gel insoles into your heels will help you last a bit longer in heels. They will provide some extra arch support, increase stability and help reduce the pain. Try “Pillows For Your Feet” soft gel cushion inserts. Designed by top New York City pediatric surgeon Dr. Suzanne Levine, this product does something many other inserts don’t — it adheres to the foot instead of the shoe, ensuring a secure fit.
Stand on Softer Surfaces
If there’s a choice between standing on a rug or wood floors, always choose the rug. Heels put a lot of pressure on the bottom of the your foot, and standing on a hard surface puts even more strain on your foot.
“Standing on a rug is like having a cushion in your shoe,” Megan Leahy, a podiatrist at the Illinois Bone & Joint Institute in Chicago told Shape magazine.
Soak in Epsom Salt
Filling up the bathtub with a few inches of warm water, sprinkling some Epsom salt and soaking your feet in it for 20 minutes will do wonders. This home remedy has been a favorite for generations — and for good reason. This simple Epsom salt soak relieves pain, reduces swelling, improves circulation and even deodorizes the feet.
“Magnesium in the salt reduces inflammation and cramping,” Leahy told Shape magazine.
Epsom salt also has antifungal and antimicrobial properties, so your feet feel better and look better.
Not only are high heels painful for the foot, but they are also tough on your ankles and your calf muscles. Heels can place your calf muscles and Achilles tendons in a shortened position, which will shrink the calf muscles while thickening the tendons. Doing some stretches can help with the pain and lessen the impact. One simple stretch you can do: Face the wall, place one foot in front of the other and keep both feet flat on the floor. Then bend your front knee and keep the back one straight. Alternate feet after about 90 seconds. For more exercises and stretches, see this story by Shape magazine.
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on AllDay.com, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.