Commentary by Dr. Betman

Although most women appear taller and more shapely by wearing high heels, cramming their toes into shoes, especially those that are pointy (very much like fitting a square peg in a round hole), can eventually develop overlapping or hammertoes, bunions, numbness, tingling or nerve pain (neuromas). Although many of my female patients admit high heels cause foot pain, they continue to tolerate the discomfort as they insist on looking more professional and stylish, which often times is essential, especially in the corporate world. I am not an advocate of high heel shoes being worn daily; however, I do recommend alternating shoes with variable heights to gym shoes, regularly.

My recommendations for those patients who commute from the Burbs to the Loop are to wear your gym shoes or flats on the way into work, change into your heels upon arrival to the office and visa versa on your commute back home. By alternating shoes, sneakers and heel heights during the day, you give your calves a chance to stretch and your toes to spread out and relax, in addition to giving your back and knees a break.

As walking in high heels stress the feet, knees and lower back, I highly recommend custom- molded functional foot orthotics which support the arches and redistribute body weight, ultimately providing relief from discomfort and pain while wearing heels. As a result, the body biomechanics are improved such that excessive forces on the feet and lower extremities are reduced.

In summary, for fashion-conscious women who wear high heels:

  • Limit heels for no more than a few hours daily and alternate with gym shoes or flats.
  • Buy shoes with a more rounded or squared-off toe to avoid cramming i.e. my square peg into a round hole theory.
  • When buying new shoes, always try them on at the end of the day, as feet tend to swell over the course of the day. Make sure to walk around the store while wearing your new shoes to be certain they feel comfortable and snug.
  • Get fitted for custom-made foot orthotics specifically designed for your high heels and keep walking fashionably.
  • See your podiatrist for regular examinations and evaluations to keep you on your toes and feeling your best!

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