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High heels: How to wear them without hurting your feet

A lady wears a pair of high heel shoes.
Solid heels help distribute weight across the foot.

ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe

With racing season upon us and the festive months not far away, stilettos and heels will be chosen footwear for many women.

But can they be worn without being carried home in your hands at the end of the day?

Brisbane podiatrist Andrew Barlow said wearing heels comfortably was all about moderation.

"High heels may make your calves look great, but anatomically it puts all the weight at the front," he said.

Mr Barlow said the depending on the height of the heels, they could force the hips forward, creating a sway back.

Ladies walking together in heels.
Shorter and wider heels are better for your feet.

ABC Radio Brisbane: Jessica Hinchliffe

"It might help you look great in a dress, but it's not great for the pain and agony you receive at the end of the day," he told ABC Radio Brisbane's Craig Zonca.

"Moderation is key."

He said heels should be worn to events where walking was limited, and advised keeping them for special occasions such as weddings, balls and dinners.

"Typically, what we see after a person wears heels to an event such as the races is an aching foot, blisters and sometimes a stress fracture," Mr Barlow said.

"We do see many of those injuries post-Melbourne Cup.

Ways to help your feet recover

Mr Barlow said there were simple ways to help feet recover after a day in heels.

Heel buying tips

  1. The heel of the shoe should be less than 2.5cm high
  2. A low broad heel is preferable, it reduces the pressure on the front of the foot
  3. Shoes should have a well-padded sole to absorb shock and reduce pressure
  4. The shape and width of the shoe should be the same as your feet
  5. Pointy heels can make toes "claw" and affect overall body posture, look for a wider fit

    Source: Australian Podiatry Association

"Get a tennis ball and roll the ball around the arch of the foot, especially around the forefoot," he said.

"This works on the soft tissue to relieve the pain and tightness that's a response from being in a bad position throughout the day."

In addition to massaging with a tennis ball, Mr Barlow said ice could help.

"Use ice then place them [your feet] up above the level of your heart so they don't swell up too much," he said.

"If you have someone special in your life, get them to give them a rub too."