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Sep
24
If you want to wear heels, there's a healthier way to do it

When you wear heels, that throws off the alignment in your foot, that then goes to your ankles, your knees, your hips, your back — your whole skeletal alignment is off, adding extra stress onto the joints, which in turn can cause arthritis over the years.

wearing heels can also cause more acute problems, like stress fractures and neuromas. A neuroma happens when a nerve in the foot gets sandwiched too tightly between bones, growing enlarged and causing pain. And while heels don't actually cause bunions or hammertoes, they can easily make them worse.

The worst part of my heel-wearing experiment wasn't that my feet hurt more than usual. It was that I moved way less than usual.

I love taking walks at lunchtime or post-dinner to stretch my legs after a day of not moving much. I hate going to the gym, but I do it once or twice a week anyway because there's overwhelming scientific evidence to say that I should. What I mean is that I make an effort to move around a lot.

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The shoes made me a more sedentary person

But wearing heels sapped me of any excess energy that might have been used on a walk or workout. Suddenly I found myself sitting on a stool at my desk, instead of standing like I normally do. I also found myself parked on the couch from the moment I got home to the moment I crawled into bed. By the end of two weeks, I felt stiff.

You become more sedentary because you don't want to have to get up and suffer the pain," she said. "If you're wearing a certain shoe that's not comfortable, you might not want to go that extra mile to get that good walk in. You could be late to work because you can't walk as fast in heels.

If you still want to wear heels, there's a healthier way to do it

Next time you're at the shoe store, Brenner says you should look for heels no higher than 2.5 inches. Make sure the shoes also have good arch support and wide toe boxes (pointy-toed designs that compress the bones in your feet are not ideal). And when you can, opt for a wedge or platform-style heel, rather than a stiletto.

And even if your current heels don't meet those criteria, you can still wear them in a healthy way. The secret is to prep yourself with some calf stretching and then wear the shoes in moderation.

If you want to go crazy and wear your 4-inch stilettos, "Only wear them for a maximum of three hours. (That's standing time only — you can pause your internal timer when you're in a chair.)

Technically, I didn't complete my challenge

I will admit that I caved and wore flat shoes to work one day of each week. Really, that's a testament to heels and their efficiency in inflicting pain. I don't have any foot or joint health issues and I still couldn't wear the shoes for five straight days.

I will still break out a pair of heels for special occasions. I've always loved test driving three or four extra inches of height for an evening. Next time I'll just keep an eye on the clock — and relish in the fact that I won't have to put them on again come Monday morning.


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