From the time we first learn to walk, high heels seem to be just plain irresistible – who among us hasn’t raided our mum’s wardrobe and tottered around in her shoes, even before we reached school age?!

The attraction only grows as we do – by the time we reach adulthood and our feet have finished growing, we realise that:

  • Heels make our legs (and even our butts) look ahhhh-mazing!
  • We feel taller, more confident and more powerful when we wear them;
  • And even if our dress size fluctuates, our shoe size rarely does.

I’m sure we all know what it’s like to fall in love with a pair of killer heels – and we just *had* to have them, no matter what the price.

The problem is however, that those “must-have” shoes, could end up costing you a lot more than just money.

High heels are notorious for being bad for the wearer, and can even end up doing your body some serious damage – a very high price to pay for a pair of shoes, in anybody’s language.

So what’s a gal to do?!

Do’s and Don’ts for High Heels

Experts would love us to throw away our high heels altogether, but we both know that’s just not gonna happen.

However, there are ways you can minimise the impact your heels have on your body:

  • Don’t go too high. The higher the heel, the more likely it will affect your foot function and body posture.
  • Don’t wear them all the time. Wearing high heels for more than 40 hours per week will shorten your calf muscle. If you must wear them to work every day, at least switch to a more practical option for the walk to and from the office, or when out and about at lunch. Even better if you can save your high heels only for special occasions.
  • Avoid pointy toes. These cramp your feet, causing your toes to clench, resulting in unsightly and painful problems like hammer toes, corns, calluses and bunions.
  • Strap yourself in. Choose a high heel design that gives your foot some stability – like a pair of mary-janes, or one that lace up, have a t-bar, or ankle strap.
  • Thick not thin. Consider a wedge or a thicker heel, instead of stilettos, as they distribute your body weight more evenly. Spiky heels put more pressure on the balls of your feet, leading to burning pain in the short term, and a raft of problems in the long term.

The following tips are important no matter what sort of shoes you are wearing (not just for high heels) – because at the end of the day, shoes should be made for walking!

  • Make sure your shoes cushion your foot. For maximum comfort, look for shoes with a well-cushioned sole.
  • Fit matters. Ideally, your shoes should gently cup your heel to provide support (slingbacks just don’t measure up). There should also be some support for the arch of your foot.

But back to high heels. Apart from making you more likely to trip or injure yourself (rolled ankle, anybody?) when you wear them, prolonged use of high heels actually alters the way you stand and walk. Not only does this have a negative impact on your posture and biomechanics, over time it can also cause problems ranging from back pain to bunions.

When it comes to wearing high heels, remember the old maxim: all things in moderation. You don’t have to turn your back on your beloved heels forever. Just make sure you follow these guidelines, and make a point of mixing things up, by varying the shoes you wear.

So next time somebody gives you a hard time about your shoe buying habit, tell them that having a choice of shoes in your wardrobe isn’t just about style. It’s also good for your health!