If you've ever spent a night wobbling around in a pair of high heels that caused major cramping, you're not alone—we've been there too. Whether it be from walking, standing, or even just sliding them on, it can often seem like high heels are an ongoing source of pain and misery.
But, not all heels are created equal, and as chunkier heel styles have risen in popularity, we've begun to wonder what are the best type of heels to wear? While our team suspected that a block heel is superior to a stiletto, we needed experts to weigh in once and for all. Are chunkier heels actually better for your health?
We talked to DPM and footwear designer Dr. Joan Oloff along with Dr. Jackie Sutera, a podiatrist and Vionic innovation lab member. Together they broke down the science behind painful heels and offered tips for surviving a night in a painful pair.
Read on for a look at how they broke it all down below, then shop heels that won't kill your feet!
When We Experience Pain While Wearing Heels, What Is Happening?
First things first, we asked the doctors to explain exactly what causes discomfort. "Most heels are produced on an insole construction that pushes the center of gravity forward." Notes Dr. Oloff. By moving the bulk of your weight to the ball of your foot, it can cause pain and inflammation in your feet as well as in your leg muscles and joints.
Is a Chunky Heel Actually Better for Your Foot?
Both doctors agree that a chunkier heel offers better stability, ultimately offering more support. [A] chunky heel is better for your foot than a stiletto because it has a greater surface area to distribute your body weight across," Dr. Sutera says. "It is also more stable for people who are prone to ankle sprains and have balance issues."
And If the Pain Persists?
As careful as we may be to choose comfortable shoes, the bottom line is that sometimes a great pair of shoes just hurt. Dr. Oloff suggests icing the ball of the foot, or looking into cushions, which "provide a softer surface, but don’t aid in offloading the pressure." Dr Sutera adds that limiting the amount of time standing or walking in heels helps as well.
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