We have a love-hate relationship with high heels. According to a study published in 2014 by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), 71 percent of American women surveyed said high heels were the biggest culprit for their foot pain, followed by barefoot running shoes (27 percent), boots (26 percent), flats (23 percent) and flip flops (23 percent). What’s more, when the women were asked what they did when the shoes hurt their feet, 38 percent said they’d “wear them anyway if I like them.” Before we all lose our minds, let’s review what makes or breaks a comfortable shoe. Because that whole “no pain, no gain” thing is overrated. Here are the best heels for standing all day, dancing all night and everything in between.
Chunky, Stacked Heels
Trade in your stilettos for chunky, stacked heels. This way, the shoe is providing a larger base to evenly distribute your weight. Plus, the sturdier the shoe, the less likely you are to wobble while you walk or twist your ankle.
Sky-high heels put too much pressure on the balls of your feet, ankles and knees. Try bringing it down a notch. The lower the heel, the more natural your foot position will be, thereby eliminating a great deal of discomfort. Typically, podiatrists recommend heels that are 2 inches or below.
Round- or Open-Toe Ankle Boots
Try to avoid flimsy shoes that provide your feet with little to no support. Your foot muscles will have to work twice as hard and you’ll have a higher chance of injury. Ankle boots, made with soft leather, are a great solution. They keep your foot secure, allow for adequate movement and prevent painful afflictions like bunions and hammer toes. Just make sure you select a pair with chunky heels and round-toe or wide open-toe beds for ample room.
There are a handful of extremely foot-friendly brands that have been around forever, like Naturalizer, Clarks and Rockport. Often, these shoes are crafted with reinforced heels, superior shoe cushioning and flexible leathers. But before you roll your eyes, give them a chance. These brands have made it their mission to invest in fashionable classics that don’t remind you of orthotics.
Forget wedges if you’re going to be walking a lot; they don’t allow your feet to properly flex. Instead, opt for platforms. They’re a great way to add a little extra height without getting into trouble. Why? Because the platform will raise the front of your foot closer to your heels, thereby alleviating the strain on the arch and the balls of your feet. And that’s what we like to hear.