High heels have been a staple in the wardrobe of women for decades. They’re an accessory in their own right, and they elongate the legs while helping to provide the finishing touch to any outfit. Many women wear heels for work, while some save their highest heels for special occasions and events.
However, despite helping you to look and feel especially glamorous, high heels can cause foot pain and numbness. Wearing high heels regularly can cause a multitude of painful issues, as you’re forcing your feet into positions that they aren’t naturally supposed to retain.
Many women in the course of their life have experienced what’s known as the ‘high heel hangover.’ This is the foot pain that happens the day after wearing heels for a long period. Perhaps you attended a wedding and had to wear heels the entire time. Maybe you were at a work conference and spent much of the day standing up in high heels. Whatever the cause, it’s likely that you spent the next day looking for pain relief.
We’re going to look at how you can get relief from foot pain due to high heels. We’ll look at ways you can stretch and strengthen your feet, as well as ways you can avoid high heel discomfort entirely. If you’ve ever suffered from serious foot pain because of your footwear, read on!
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Do I Have Foot Pain from High Heels?
- 2 How To Get Pain Relief After Wearing High Heels
- 3 How To Avoid Pain & Numbness from High Heels
- 4 The Importance of Looking After Your Feet
- 5 Read Our Latest Posts:
Why Do I Have Foot Pain from High Heels?
Wearing heels might help you to look and feel powerful and glamorous, but the position you’re forcing your feet into is unnatural. The human foot does have a natural arch, but it’s nowhere near as severe as the arch you create when you wear heels.
Many heels also have a pointed or pinched toe. This is to elongate the leg even further, as a sort of visual illusion. However, this can cause the toes to become crushed at the front of the shoe, causing pain and even numbness in some cases. This numbness has a name: it’s called Morton’s neuroma. This is down to a swollen nerve which can become enlarged when it’s irritated or pinched.
Morton’s neuroma can be seriously painful. It may feel as though you’re standing on a pebble in your shoe, and you may feel burning or tingling in the area. Therapy can help to reduce pressure on the nerve. If that doesn’t work, doctors recommend steroid injections into the are and even full removal of the nerve.
If you continue to wear heels even after experiencing pain, you could do more damage to your feet. Heels can damage the ligaments and bone in the lower half of your feet – you may have to avoid heels for months while you recover. In some cases, doctors recommend staying away from heels entirely.
How To Get Pain Relief After Wearing High Heels
If you currently find yourself with a ‘high heel hangover,’ you’re probably seeking some top tips to provide some relief. Here, we’ll list the best things you can do to help your feet recover, as well as some tips to prevent your feet from hurting in the future.
Stretching And Exercising
Your feet are a complex network of tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones. When they’ve spent the night crammed into a pair of heels in an unnatural position, they can certainly benefit from some stretches. The Achilles tendon, in particular, can become tight from walking in high heels.
Try a wall stretch to loosen it up:
- Face a wall and extend your arms ahead of you, so that your palms are flat on the wall. Make sure your arms are extended fully.
- Place one foot forward and one back, with toes still pointing towards the wall. Keep heels flat on the floor.
- Bend the front knee and keep the back leg straight, then lean towards the wall for a great stretch down the back of your leg.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds, then repeat on the other leg.
Yoga is also a great way to stretch out the feet. Downward-facing-dog, one of the most common yoga postures, is perfect for stretching out the lower legs and feet.
Try a Mineral Bath
Epsom salt baths are renowned for being able to soothe sore parts of the body. Many athletes take Epsom salt baths after a training session or a game. Epsom salt is not salt – it’s a natural mineral that’s made up of magnesium and sulfate.
Magnesium is vital for our bodies. It helps us to build and repair tissues, as well as helping our muscles to relax. If your calf muscles are still tight from a day wearing heels, this will help them to get rid of that tension.
Salt baths have a multitude of other benefits, from improving hydration and speeding up healing to decreasing inflammation. If you have tightness, tension, aches or pains in any part of the body, an Epsom salt bath is a great way to find some relief.
Enjoy a Massage
The thought of a foot massage after a day of wearing high heels can sound heavenly. Working the arch of the foot can help stabilize the toes and provide much-needed relief in the area.
If you can, enlist a friend or family member to give your feet a loving rub. OK, they are unlikely to be too keen. If not, we highly recommend that you massage your feet even better with an electric vibrating foot massager.
Keep the Feet Elevated
One great tip to help prevent your feet from swelling up after wearing heels is to keep them elevated. When you get into bed, stack some pillows where your feet usually go and keep your feet higher than your heart. This will help bring down the swelling and inflammation in the area overnight, which means there’s less chance of you waking up in agony the next day.
Wear Comfortable Footwear
After a hard day of wearing high heels, you should treat your feet to some more comfortable footwear. If you can, spend the day wearing some sneakers. They will provide important support to the arches of your feet, and won’t crush your toes together.
You can also create extra room in your footwear with a shoe stretcher.
If you’re staying at home the day after you wear heels, you could also wear soft slippers or cozy socks for some extra cushioning when you’re walking around your home.
Take a Painkiller
If the pain from your feet is getting too much, it might be worth taking a painkiller.
Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory which will help reduce the pain and take your mind off things. Try not to go straight back to wearing heels just because you’ve taken a painkiller.
How To Avoid Pain & Numbness from High Heels
Now that we’ve covered the ways you can find pain relief after wearing high heels, we’re going to look at ways you can avoid the pain in the first place.
Here are some top tips to keep your feet comfortable around-the-clock:
Keep Your Feet in Good Condition
Looking after your feet is very important – after all, you can’t replace them if things go wrong!
You should take great care to maintain them properly. That means cutting your toenails regularly, addressing issues like ingrown nails or fungal infections, and seeking treatment for things like bunions before they get out of hand.
If you look after your feet properly, you’ll be less likely to experience severe foot problems from high heels.
Choose Cushioned Insoles
Invest in some insoles or gel grips that slot inside your heeled shoe and provide a little cushioning. One of the best is the Superfeet Green Heritage Insole. This protects the heel and the ball of the foot – the area where most of the impact lands with every step in high heels.
Think About Where You’re Standing
When you’re wearing heels, if you have a choice between standing on a hard dancefloor and a carpeted floor, choose the carpet. Standing on a hard floor applies more pressure to the bottom of the shoe. This, in turn, puts pressure on your feet. We’re not saying you need to spend your day jumping from carpet to rug, but if you have the choice, always choose the softer surface to stand on.
Choose Appropriate Shoes
We know it may be hard to steer away from the five-inch stilettos with the pointed toe that you’ve been dreaming of since you saw them in the shop window. But think about the future health of your feet. Instead of going for the pointed stilettos that crush your toes and put needless pressure on the delicate bones in your feet, choose an option that will still look stylish without the pain.
Choosing a shoe with a thicker heel is a great way to alleviate the pressure of wearing heels. Your weight is more evenly distributed across a thicker heel. Wedges make a great choice – they’re super stylish and more supportive. You should also opt for nothing higher than three inches or so. Anything more than that will end up hurting the balls of your feet and could cause you problems in the future.
The Importance of Looking After Your Feet
Caring for your feet properly is vital. If you don’t, you can end up in agony with every step. If you permanently damage the tendons or ligaments in your feet, you could even end up being unable to walk entirely.
Wearing high heels can be fun, and can help you feel glamorous and confident. But it’s important that you don’t sacrifice your foot health for a few hours of extra height. Choose heels that won’t cramp your toes together or place unnecessary pressure on the soles of your feet. Make sure that when you don’t have to wear heels, you have shoes which provide some support and comfort, like sneakers or orthopedic footwear.
You should also take other precautions to keep your feet healthy. Trim your toenails regularly, and watch out for the development of things like bunions or hardened skin on the feet. If you have a problem with your feet, whether it’s been caused by high heels or not, see a doctor. Pain in the feet is unlikely to go away on its own. A medical professional may need to prescribe some treatment to help your feet get back to normal.