High heels are both the love and bane of many women’s existence. They look great but can feel like every time you take a step a nail is being driven into your foot. But painful or not, women are going to wear heels. So what makes one pair of heels so much more comfortable than another? A recent study found that shoe design makes a difference on the comfort of the wearer and that certain angles for different heights tended to be more comfortable.
The study used 32 female volunteers who were frequent high-heel wearers. Then it questioned them about comfort levels, checked pressure on the foot and measured angles, heel beds and heel height. The researchers found that foot bed design and angle of the shoe make a difference in high heel comfort. For a 1 inch heel, an angle of 4 to 5 degrees was best while a heel of just fewer than 3 inches, a 16 to 18 degree was found to be most comfortable. They also found that a longer, less angled heel bed offered more comfort and more foot contact with the foot bed tended to be more comfortable.
So what can you take away from this? We’re not suggesting you bring a protractor with you shoe shopping, but here’s a few things to think about when buying heels:
- Walk around in them to make sure your foot is fully supported.
- Check that they have a bit of padding or purchase padding made specifically for heels.
- Look for a longer heel bed that isn’t sharply angled.
- Is the angle of your foot comfortable, or does the shoe put all of the pressure on the balls of your feet. You want your weight to be as evenly distributed on the foot bed as possible.
- Buy moleskin to relieve pain from corns and blisters that may have already formed.
Shoes protect and support your feet, which take all the weight from your body. So be careful when shopping for them. Yes, cute shoes are great, but not if you can’t walk longer than 10 minutes in them before you start to cry. However, you can buy high heels that don’t hurt, and remember if you’re going longer distances, wear flats or tennis shoes (not toning shoes). Be kind to your feet: without them, you can’t wear cute heels.