It’s an age old debate but many women are still confused about whether high heels or flat shoes are best for them. We’ve all heard the horror stories about the problems that high heels can create for your feet, so most people assume the opposite kind of shoe, flats, should therefore be great for your feet.
But did you know that those cute little flats could be creating all sorts of other problems for your feet? So as trusted podiatrists in Sydney, we’d thought it would be a good idea to compare heels and flats and give you our take on which is really better.
High heels have a fairly poor reputation – they can not only cause foot problems but back pain, muscle spasms and even painful leg cramps.
The worst offenders when it comes to high heels are needle high heels, which have an extremely thin and very high heel. This causes the majority of your body weight to rest completely on the ball of your foot, resulting in a lot of pressure on the ball of your foot and your toes.
Stilettos pose a similar problem but their heel is usually a little thicker (but not much!) than the needle heels.
This weight imbalance when wearing very high heels, of any kind, causes a distinct change in posture. As the lower part of your leg carries more weight than it should, the muscles in your calves contract and can cause pain and discomfort when worn for long periods of time.
Now, after seeing the kind of problems that high heels can create, it would be almost natural to assume that flat shoes would be much more comfortable and safe when it comes to your foot health.
But due to the lack of support you get from flats, they can cause just as many foot problems as high heels! Who would have thought?
Flats offer no arch support, usually have no fastenings such as zips, straps, buckles or laces and often have little to no shock-absorbing material. The result of this is excess friction on the heel, the Achilles tendon and toes, which is why you often see blisters, corns and callouses on the feet of those who wear flats for long periods of time.
Wearing unsupported flat shoes like ballet pumps or thongs can cause not just foot pain, but also back pain, hip pain and knee pain. Fallen arches are one of the most common causes of foot pain and if you’ve got fallen arches and wear flat shoes, your foot pain can become much worse.
Another common foot condition we see here at The Foot Hub, in both children and adults alike, is plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the band of tissue that runs between the heel and the arch of the foot. This can sometimes be treated with some simple home exercises, but in some cases, custom orthotics may be the best solution.
As with anything in life, the answer is really ‘everything in moderation’.
If you love wearing heels or flats, you don’t have to completely stop, but rather wear them in moderation.
Go through your shoe collection and make sure you have a selection of different shoes for different purposes. A low heeled shoe with a broad based is ideal for wearing for longer periods of time, or at least breaking up the amount of time you’re wearing higher heeled shoes or flats.
If you need to wear a particular kind of shoe at work, and you don’t find it the most comfortable option, carry a spare pair of comfortable shoes to change into when you arrive and leave work, to reduce the amount of time you need to wear your work shoes.
Many people think that some amount of foot pain is normal, especially when ‘breaking in’ new shoes, but the reality is that no foot pain is normal. If you’re experiencing foot, leg, hip, knee or back pain, and you think your shoes may be to blame, it’s time to see your local podiatrist.
Book an appointment online now with our friendly Sydney podiatrist where we’ll be able to evaluate your feet (and your shoes!) and come up with a personalised plan of action to get you back on your feet, with no pain, in no time!