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When it comes to looking stylish, nothing beats a gorgeous pair of high heels. Heels make your legs look longer, your body look slimmer, and your whole outfit just a little more polished. Unfortunately, for many women, they also make your feet hurt something awful! Thank shoe designers' propensity for pointy toes, spindly heels, and narrow silhouettes for your aching post-heel feet. And while according to the American Podiatric Medical Association, you should get rid of any shoes that cause any discomfort, the fashionista in you likely finds that hard to comply with. That's why you need strategies to help you make your high heels work for you, not against you. Read on for tips on wearing your high heels comfortably (or at least more comfortably).
Buy the right size. Sure, seems obvious, but when's the last time you got measured when you bought shoes? Podiatrists know that feet can grow larger as we get older (and pregnancy can result in longer or wider feet, too). That's why it's crucial to have your feet measured every time you buy shoes. Make sure there's a thumb's width between your longest toe and the front of the shoe, to give your toes room to move. For heels, this means you may need to go up a size to get a comfortable fit.
Stick to round toes. Lucky for us, round-toed shoes are back in style this season! Where pointy toes can wrench your big toe inward, causing joint pain, crunched toes, and even the beginnings of bunions, round toes allow your toes to lie flat and spread out naturally. That makes for much more comfort. And if you can't swear off your pointy toes completely? Have some round-toed shoes to alternate with the pointy ones.
Don't go too high. Podiatrists agree that a heel of one to two inches is a good choice for comfort and foot health. And with kitten heels still such a big look, that's great news. Avoid three- or four-inch heels, which put undue pressure on the ball and bones in the front of your foot.
Tailor your width. Sometimes the toe isn't the problem -- it's the width. Many fashion shoes come in a standard medium width. But if you have wide feet, medium-width shoes will feel uncomfortable. When you find a pair of shoes you love, see if they come in a wide width; if not, a shoemaker can usually stretch the shoes to widen the toe box, enhancing the comfort of the shoe.
Cushion up. When you have the shoe size and style right, it's time to think about cushioning. Many fashion shoes come with less-than-adequate cushioning on the area you need it most: right under the ball of your foot. Especially when you're wearing heels, which shifts your weight fully onto the ball of your foot, ample cushioning will help your feet stay comfy. If your shoes don't have enough, consider adding some with a shoe insert. A brand called Foot Petals makes Tip Toes ($6.95), a flower-shaped insert that provides great cushioning.
Alternate. Wearing heels for many days in a row can make your feet feel ravaged. To maintain some comfort, switch between heels and a flatter pair of shoes. Although heels elongate your legs when you're wearing a skirt, they are less important when you are wearing trousers, so give feet a rest on those days.