Victoria Beckham certainly knows a thing or two about fashion, but even the A-list designer knows that the sky is not the limit when it comes to painful footwear. The former Spice Girl turned fashion mogul was recently quoted as saying she “just can’t do heels anymore” while working, and it’s clear she’s finally feeling the effects of decades of habitual high heel use. Much like Beckham, many women are conflicted about toeing the fashion line with anything other than the highest heels. But, according to one back and spine expert, beauty doesn’t always have to equal pain.
Dr. Mark Yezak, owner of Houston Spine and Rehabilitation Centers, has seen too many cases of damage to feet, legs, posture and even the spine itself due to the wrong shoe choices. “Wearing high heels doesn’t have to be a painful experience,” he said. “However, daily wearing of heels higher than two inches can lead to long-term health concerns. In addition to the obvious foot discomfort, there are related issues with the spine, leg muscles and joints that women must consider when choosing footwear.”
Sky-high stilettos are certainly fun and fashionable on the runway, but in the real world, comfort and health prevail. Here are five tips for staying comfortable in your couture:
1. Make sure you have the right size and fit. Wearing high heels that are too small, too big, too wide or too narrow can push your spine out of alignment and throw off your natural gait. “Try shopping for heels later in the afternoon, after your feet have been moving all day, said Yezak. “This will give you the most accurate and most comfortable fit for your everyday lifestyle.”
2. Try a lower, wider heel and natural toe shape. Whether you wear high heels daily or just need a pair for a special occasion, opt for a still-stylish lower heel – two inches or less – with a wider base or a wedge heel. Also avoid pointed-toed shoes, as they can squeeze your toes into an unnatural shape, causing ingrown toenails and hammer toes. Choose from brands that specialize in support, or designer brands with a good fit.
3. Switch out for comfortable flats a few times a week. If heels are your go-to wardrobe staple, try switching to some stylish, supportive flats during the week or on weekends. “Wearing shoes that strengthen your body’s natural alignment will help alleviate some of the issues caused by heels, including poor posture, shortening of the calf muscles, joint pain, and general discomfort,” said Yezak. Many shoe designers have fashionable flats for many occasions – work, play, active lifestyle, and everything in between.
4. Add supports to your shoe wardrobe. If you have specific concerns, adding arch supports, non-slip pads, or even no-show socks will lessen the pressure on your feet and lower back. Most inserts and pads are available at department stores for a nominal cost, but the relief you feel will be worth a million bucks.
5. Most importantly, know your body. If you have a high arch, no arch, achy back or other health concerns, know your limitations when it comes to footwear. Whether that means stashing some flats in your handbag for your commute, or just planning to head to the party in stylish sandals, don’t let a too-high shoe derail your long-term health goals. Healthy bodies are better than any accessory and are always on trend.
In 1996, Dr. Mark Yezak established Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Centers to pioneer a multidisciplinary clinic specializing in treatment for acute and chronic pain. Dr. Yezak is one of “Houston’s Top Docs” and is consistently ranked among the Top 10 chiropractors in the Houston area. In addition to a Houston and Sugar Land location, a third Houston Spine & Rehabilitation Center is located at 3101 College Park Drive in The Woodlands, Texas. Please call 281-882-3267 for more information about Houston Spine and Rehabilitation Centers or to book an appointment with Dr. Yezak.