How can high heels hurt my feet?

Common high heel related pain and conditions:

  • Metatarsalgia (ball of foot pain) and stress fractures: High heels position your feet to point the toes downwards, which can put a lot of stress on the ball of your foot. Generally, the higher the heel, the worse this stress will be.

    Also, when your toes strain upwards to meet the ground, the natural padding on the ball of your foot shifts, which leads to even more pressure being exerted on your metatarsal bones. The pain that results is referred to as metatarsalgia.

    Stress fractures of the metatarsal bones can occur if the strain on the bone is great enough.

  • Heel pain: Most often associated with long-term wear of high heels, heel pain can result from the shortening of the calf muscles that occurs when you wear heels. For those that wear heels often, the calf muscle can become tight. After removing your heels, the calf muscle is allowed to stretch out, which can cause a painful pulling at the heel.

  • Toenail deformities: Wearing high heels causes your weight to shift to the front of your foot, pushing your toes into the front of the shoe. Since heels are often pointed or have a narrow toe box, this puts additional pressure on your toes and toenails. Damage to your toenails can occur as they rub against the shoe.This can result in nail deformities.

  • Fractures and sprains: High heels push the weight of our body forward onto the front of our feet, which often leads us to lean backwards. In order to balance, we rely heavily on our leg muscles. The more you rely on our lower legs for balance, the more likely you are to suffer a balance-related injury, such as a sprain or fracture.

    Sprains can be a long-lasting injury that can be difficult to fully treat. Also, if the injury is severe enough, it can cause a bone to break in the ankle or foot.

  • Bunions and hammertoes: Used to describe crooked toe positions, these conditions can be quite painful. They are often linked to the wearing of closed-toe shoes, and in particular, heels.

  • Knee and lower back pain: When heels angle your toes downward, they alter the alignment of the rest of your body, which can contribute to lower back pain. Also, in order to maintain balance, your back will often arch, which can contribute even more so to your lower back pain. Higher-heeled shoes can also result in knee pain.

If I were to describe my relationship with high heels, I’d say “it’s complicated.”

When I first put them on, they look beautiful and lovely, making me feel like I can take on the world. An hour later, they are a punishment from hell living on my feet. I curse the moment I thought I could wear them all day!

Wear your high heels all day with this simple trick

May 25, 201702:13

So when I heard about a trick that’s supposed to make heels less painful, I had to try it. I figured it can’t make them worse, right?

All you have to do is tape your third and fourth toes together before putting on heels. This is supposed to relieve some of the pressure on the nerve between those two toes that causes most of the pain.

TODAY Style spoke to podiatrist Dr. Megan Leahy before testing out this hack to see if that’s actually true.

“Taping toes together is not a treatment we employ in podiatry, but I was pretty impressed by the anecdotes I’ve heard about this,” Leahy said. She mused that the tape may also shift how women walk and distribute weight on their feet, which could help relieve pressure, too.

Personally, I was doubtful.

Morning

I wrapped 1-inch-wide skin tape snugly around my third and fourth toes two times on each foot (you can use scotch tape instead, but I wouldn’t recommend it). Looking down at my wiggling toes, I was convinced that this tape wouldn’t stay on throughout the day.

Full disclosure: I live and work in New York City. Can tape really outlast my commute?

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Get a daily roundup of items that will make your life easier, healthier and more stylish. Would taping my toes together make heels more comfortable? I was doubtful.TODAY

On a normal day, I wear flats on my way to work and change into heels once I get into the office. I’ve learned that wobbling up and down several flights of stairs and dealing with subway crowds while in pain isn’t the best way to start the day.

But in the name of the experiment, I decided to give my heels a shot and prayed I wouldn’t fall on my face. As it turns out, I (somehow) gracefully got up and down the stairs without a problem; no wobbling or pain either.

Success! Made it up and down the subway stairs without falling. Hey, it’s harder than it sounds.TODAY

Since it was a beautiful day (and I wanted to put this trick to the test) I made my way to Central Park to take in the greenery. My goal was stroll around and check out the Bethesda Terrace, which has a seriously long flight of stairs. Gulp.

I was able to walk down the center of the stairs without holding a railing at all. In fact, I noticed that I was significantly less wobbly and had more control and balance with each step.

I felt good. Actually, I felt great. My feet weren’t aching after all of that walking and it barely felt like I had heels on. So far, so good!

After a walk around the park, I was still feeling good.TODAY

Afternoon

After a full morning of exploring (about three hours), it was time for lunch. I stopped at Times Square to grab a hot dog — all while standing.

If I wear heels on a typical day, I’ll bring a pair of flats to flip on after about two or three hours. I was pushing four hours and still feeling strong.

After that, I headed up to the Met Museum for, you guessed it, more stairs. You can start feeling bad for my calves now.

I never thought tape would help me conquer the stairs of the Met while wearing heels.TODAY

After five hours of roaming the New York City streets with my toes taped, I could barely tell my heels were on. I walked A LOT by this point, which would tire me out on any day, even if I was wearing my favorite flats.

Was this hack actually working?

If you zoomed in you would see that there are no tears … after eight hours in heels. If that’s not success, I don’t know what is.TODAY

I ended the day with a quick shopping trip up and down Fifth Avenue. Well, it was mostly window shopping but it gave me a good excuse to walk around a bit more before heading back to the office. A full eight hours later, I still had my shoes on.

Final thoughts:

I certainly did more walking and climbing stairs than I would in a typical day — with or without heels. And after eight hours, my feet weren’t in excruciating pain and the tape was still on. It didn’t slide off one bit. I was tired, don’t get me wrong, but I could have easily kept them on for another hour without complaining.

The two biggest benefits that I saw were that my feet weren’t aching or swollen and that I felt more balanced. The combination of both of those things made my day so much more pleasant. I was able to relax and focus on the day, rather than my throbbing feet.

With that said, I wouldn’t trade my flats for heels on a daily basis. This hack isn’t a magical fix for another high-heel conundrum: painful blisters.

But when I had an event the next night, I found that I didn’t dread wearing heels because I knew I had my secret weapon: tape.

RELATED:

  • Does the ‘bubble mask’ work? See our Test Drive in action

  • How bad are high heels for your feet?

  • How to walk in heels: 12 tips and tricks from experts

HOW TO WEAR HIGH HEELS AND AVOID INJURY

How do I avoid injuries and pain while wearing heels?

High-heeled shoes are a popular fashion choice, but wearing them can lead to foot pain and injury. Some common injuries and pain associated with wearing high heels may be prevented with the following steps.

Foot Pain and Stress Fractures

High heels are designed to point the foot down to give your leg an attractive slender look. However, this position puts a lot of pressure on the ball of the foot, and the toes must bend up to mee​t the ground. This moves the natural padding out from under the ball of the foot, adding to the pressure placed on the ball of the foot (metatarsal heads). The pain created at the ball of the foot is called metatarsalgia.

The higher the heel, the higher the pressure on the ball of the foot. In fact, the force on the bones over time may cause the metatarsal bone to break without injury. This is called a stress fracture.

Tips to avoid metatarsalgia and stress fractures:

  • Wear a lower heel height – the lower the heel, the less pressure on the ball of the foot
  • Look for a wider toe box with a shape that matches your toe shape – the more pointed the toe of the shoe, the more the toes are crowded together, with more pressure on the ball of the foot
  • Limit the amount of time wearing high heels – longer time in high heels puts more pressure on the bones of the feet, which increases the risk of pain and stress fracture

Heel Pain

Heel pain can occur after frequent wearing of high heels as the higher heel leads to shortening of the calf muscles. The tight calf muscles must then stretch when walking in a flatter shoe or barefoot. This can create a painful pulling sensation at the rear or bottom of the heel.

Tips to avoid heel pain:

  • Limit the amount of time wearing high heels and not everyday – the more time in the high heels, the more likely the calf muscles will become contracted

Toe and Toenail Deformities

While wearing high heels, the foot slides down until the toes jam in the front of the shoe. The toe box is often pointed, further crowding the toes and toenails. Bunions and hammertoe deformities (crooked toe positions) can occur from the crowding of the toes. Bunions and hammertoes are not only cosmetically ugly, but may be associated with pain. Once these deformities become painful, changing shoes or surgery is often the only treatment.

As the toenails rub against the shoe, there may be damage that causes deformity and makes the nail prone to fungal infection. This fungal infection is called onychomycosis, and it is very difficult to treat.

Tips to avoid toe and toenail damage:

  • Wear a lower heel height – this will reduce sliding and lower the pressure on the toes and toenails
  • Look for a wider toe box – the more pointed the toe of the shoe, the more crowded the toes will become, and as a result, the more the toenails will rub against the shoe
  • Consider a more open, strappy, sandal-like shoe – these shoes do not touch the toenails
  • Limit the amount of time wearing high heels – the more time in high heels, the more the toenails will be damaged

Sprains and Fractures

Ankle and foot sprains as well as fractures may happen when wearing high heels. In high heels, the foot is pointed down, which makes it easy to sprain or turn the ankle. The higher the heel, the more the body weight is pushed forward. The wearer must lean backward and use more lower leg muscle power to maintain balance. The higher the heel, the higher the risk of losing balance and injuring the foot or ankle. Ankle sprains, ankle fractures, or even foot fractures can occur and some may be serious requiring surgery.

Tips to improve your stability when wearing high heels:

  • Strengthen your lower leg muscles to improve balance
  • Wear a lower heel height – the higher the heel, the more unstable
  • Consider a heel with a wider sole – the more narrow the heel, the more unstable
  • Practice walking in high heels – some shoes require more balance
  • Use caution in crowded conditions, when drinking alcohol, and when fatigued, as well as on uneven ground, wet surfaces, and ice

The Perils of High Heels — Ankle Instability and Injury

Arthroscopic radiofrequency ablation (RFA) uses radio waves to create heat to heal or reconstruct the collagen in a damaged ligament. This speeds up the healing process.

You are a candidate for radiofrequency ablation if:

  • Your ligament is badly stretched, but not torn
  • Your ligament was torn (ruptured) but it had healed badly

Radiofrequency is a much safer and cheaper option to lasers, the former technique used to “fix” damaged ligaments. Your arthroscopic radiofrequency ablation at DeLoor Podiatry would be an outpatient procedure, and completed in minutes.

Arthroscopy is called a “keyhole” surgery because it only uses small incisions. These become the entry and exit points for the arthroscopic instruments, which is also an imaging procedure used in fine-tuning the radiofrequency ablation to heat, shorten and strengthen the collagen in your ligaments.

You would regain full range of movement in 2 weeks, and you can even go back to marching in high heels after 12 weeks.

BUT it’s recommended that you don’t. Dr. Jose Loor says, “After RFA and during the 3-month recovery period, you should be careful to avoid injury. The collagen in your ligament wouldn’t be mature yet, and you shouldn’t stretch it and completely undo the good your procedure had done.”

Some tips for wearing high heels

Always do stretching and strengthening exercises to keep your joints healthy and to make sure your calf muscles don’t get shortened and stretched.

  • Place a one-inch thick book on the floor.
  • Rest the balls of your foot on the book, with your heel on the floor.
  • Bend at the waist and reach for your toes. Hold for a bit, feel the nice stretch to your calf muscles and hamstrings.
  • Do the same to your other foot.
  • Gradually increase the thickness of the book(s) you use by inch every week.

Buy heels in the afternoon when your feet are at their biggest. Avoid pointy-toed heels that will only add to your overall discomfort by pinching your toes. You’d also avoid bunions.

Look for good insoles so your feet wouldn’t slide down.

The steepness of the heel matters more than the height. Look for platform shoes that actually reduce the steepness between your heel and the balls of your feet.

Wear high heels to work, but not to walk. Bring another pair of shoes to walk around in.

Take off your heels and plant your feet flat on the floor as much as possible.

7 scary things that can happen when you wear heels too much

  • Wearing high heels can take a serious toll on your feet.
  • Though heels often aren’t the most comfortable footwear option you have available to you, there are plenty of times when no other style will do.
  • Knowing some of the potential effects you’re risking when you wear high heels, especially over longer periods of time, and how to potentially ward off some of those effects can help you take of yourself and your feet.

High heels aren’t often considered to be the most comfortable shoes in your closet, but sometimes you need or want to wear them. You’re likely intimately familiar with the pain and blisters that can (and often do) come along with wearing high heels, but you might not realize that your shoe choice can have a real effect on you beyond just the temporary pain associated with squeezing your feet into the shoes.

If you’re going to wear high heels, you need to know not only what sorts of things your choice of shoes might be causing, but also how to help address those issues.

1. You could injure an ankle or end up with stress fractures.

Even if you only have your shoes on for a minute or two, you could potentially hurt yourself.

“ou could’ve just put on the shoe and headed out, literally take one step and step on a pebble, and then turn your foot inward and then either strain or break the ligament structures around what we call the lateral side of the ankle — so the outer part of the ankle — and it’s called a lateral ankle sprain,” Dr. Yolanda Ragland, a podiatrist and the founder of Fix Your Feet, told INSIDER.

You don’t have to spend a long time in your heels in order to feel the effects. Though this type of injury probably isn’t the very worst thing in the world, it’s undoubtedly painful and healing takes time (and sometimes some effort). An injury like this one is a potential for anyone who wears high heels for even a minute or two, but can be especially risky for people who wear heels only seldomly.

“f you aren’t use to wearing heels most people are at a greater risk of an injury like an ankle sprain because the stabilizing muscles of the feet, ankles, and lower leg that protect us aren’t strong enough to balance our body in very different gait,” Matt Ferguson, the co-founder and president of Progressive Health Innovations Inc., told INSIDER.

Practicing walking in heels — and learning how to do it — might not sound as silly know as it may have before.

Wearing heels too often can lead to arthritis. Nok Lek/

Ragland said that the joints in your knees or further down into your foot can become arthritic if you wear heels too much because the way that you’re compensating while standing or walking can cause the cartilage in these joints to wear down. That’s something that you might not consider all that often when determining what sort of shoes to wear or how often to wear high heels, but it’s something to keep in mind.

3. You could make existing foot problems worse.

If you already have things like hammer toes, ingrown toenails, corns, bunions, and more, you might notice that wearing high heels can make those things worse.

“f you have bunions or hammer toes, wearing high heels can exacerbate those problems,” Ragland said. She added that bunions can grow and become painful more quickly when you’re wearing heels versus if you’re primarily sticking to flats.

Wearing high heels can put you at a greater risk of injuring yourself even when you’re not wearing them. Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

Not only that, but you also might notice a bump form (or become a bit worse) on your heels.

“ou can get a bump that forms because the shoe is rubbing on the back of the heel, which is the calcaneus, and your Achilles tendon inserts into that area, so what happens is that, because you are shortening the Achilles tendon while you are in heels — so it’s kind of like it’s giving a little bit of relief of strain on the Achilles tendon, but it’s also bad at the same time because now it’s leaving that bone vulnerable — and you can get a bump on the side and the layman’s term is called ‘pump bump’ and we call it, in medical terms it’s called a haglund deformity,” Ragland explained.

4. You could experience pain in your body beyond your feet.

Wearing high heels doesn’t just affect your feet, but it can make things uncomfortable elsewhere in your body as well.

“Prolonged use of high heels don’t just put you at risk of injury while wearing them, you can also be at a greater risk of injury when you are not wearing them due to your body’s ability to adapt,” Ferguson said. “Look at the studies and you’ll see that heels have been linked to significant problems such as plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinopathies, calf issues, chronic knee pain, hamstring issues, hip problems, and back pain.”

This is at least partially because of the way you carry yourself when wearing heels, which is different than the way you carry yourself when you’re wearing flats.

“A few key changes occur in the body to accommodate the shift in gravity when high heels are worn regularly,” Amy Kreydin, NBCR, CCAP, BD, a board-certified reflexologist, told INSIDER. “We see the muscles and tendons in the legs shorten, the pelvis tilts forward, the curve of the lower back becomes exaggerated, and the upper body leans backward. In my practice, the long-term effects of high heels contribute to back pain, dysregulation in the digestive tract, neck pain, headaches, knee pain, and inflammation in the shortened tendons of legs and buttocks.”

5. You walk differently.

Because you carry yourself differently when you wear high heels and your center of gravity changes, it makes sense that you might walk differently as well.

“Talk to practitioners and those of us who work in the area, and we’re seeing that it’s not just when people are wearing heels that problems can also occur,” Ferguson explained. “If you wear them too long and too often, your muscles and tendons will adapt to you standing/moving differently, so there will be effects on the plantar fascia, Achilles, calf muscle, and hamstrings. Then, when you return to ‘normal’ shoes and a ‘normal’ gait (proper extension of the foot, Achilles, calf, and hamstring), that’s when you get hit with an injury.”

6. Your toenails can be affected too.

“So, a lot of times ladies come in and they think that they have a fungal nail because the nail looks dystrophic or it looks strange, it doesn’t look like it did before,” Ragland said. But what actually is happening is that your toenails are “traumatized” because of the contact with the high heels.

Beyond the way that high heels can make your nails look, they can also affect the way that they grow. Ingrown toenails are yet another potential hazard that can come with wearing high heels too much, especially if you’re wearing heels with an exceptionally pointy toe, Ragland said.

7. You could end up with hammer toes.

“earing shoes and having hammer toes at the same time will increase your chances of having corns on top of those hammer toes because again, the joint is bending, it’s rubbing up against the shoe, the skin wants to protect itself, actually, it has two options: it can either protect itself and form a callus, which is the lesser of the two evils, or it can break down and ulcerate, so the wiser thing that your body does is form the calluses and that’s where the corns come from hammer toes,” Ragland explained.

Heels can lead to hammer toes and ingrown toenails. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

You could still get hammer toes even if you don’t wear heels, she said, but your chances of getting hammer toes or dealing with hyperextended toe joints and the potential for dislocated toes may be higher if you wear them.

There are some things that can be done to help prevent or care for these issues.

Luckily, you don’t just have to live with it, nor do you have to eschew your favorite pair of heels. In fact, Ragland doesn’t discourage patients from wearing heels.

“I think as long as you do things in moderation, you should be fine,” Ragland said. “So I don’t really discourage people from wearing heels, but I do encourage people to wear their shoes wisely.”

That means not wearing them for too long of a period of time if it’s not necessary, stashing a pair of flats in your bag to throw on when needed, and wearing a different pair of shoes while in transit, for example.

Ragland and Ferguson both recommended stretching, as well. Ragland said that everyone should be stretching every day, whether they wear heels or not. And Ferguson worked on a “strengthening and stretching program” that can be done to help offset some of these negative effects, which includes stretches that you do on the days you wear heels and others that you do on the days that you don’t.

He also noted that it can be a good idea to take your heels off and add in a few stretches if you can during the day.

And Kreydin said that she recommends an Epsom salt soak when you wear them every so often and wearing different heel heights and reflexology when you wear them on a more everyday basis.

There are a ton of different techniques and tips that you can use to make wearing heels not only more comfortable, but also slightly less harsh on your body. Still, knowing what kinds of things you might be in for can help you prepare ahead of time and quickly react if something goes wrong.

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How to Wear Painful Heels Without Dying: 3 Tried-and-Tested Tips

Photography by Peter Stigter

By Kelly Dougher

Date December 28, 2018

The long-term effects of high heels on the body are well-documented, ranging from foot damage to chronic pain. I didn’t even need to know that, however; just the temporary pain of wearing killer heels for a night out or even sensible heels all day at work was enough to make me slowly dial back on my high heel addiction. These days, I work from home and one of the best side effects of that is the freedom to wear comfortable shoes (or no shoes at all) every day. Now I rarely wear high heels even when I go out, opting instead for a fun pair of sneakers. However, once in a while I do break out an old favorite pair of heels for an important meeting or a special occasion. Unfortunately my time away from heels has turned my feet into complacent, doughy cry babies. The moment I try to shove them back into their old torture chamber that is four inch stilettos, they immediately start screaming in pain. It’s not attractive to hobble around with a grimace on one’s face, but I refused to give up. I can cut back on heels, but I just can’t cut them out of my life forever. So what’s a girl to do? I decided to research how to wear painful heels without dying, and came up with three promising methods. I took three days to try out each method to see if they really worked.

Method 1: Midol

I just happened to have my period the week that I did this experiment, so I was more than happy to pop a couple Midol. The reasoning behind taking a Midol an hour before wearing heels comes from Jillian Harris of season five of The Bachelorette, who told Glamour: “If my face was puffy, it would de-bloat me, and it has a painkiller so it made my feet feel better in heels.” Genius. Full of hope, I tried it out for a full day of wearing my most painful heels. Unfortunately I think this trick is better left for a night out. The pain relief wasn’t incredibly noticeable and it definitely didn’t last an entire day. However if you do rely on Midol before going out for a few hours in your heels, be careful about mixing alcohol with it since that’s not recommended.

Method 2: Maxi pads

This method, shared by Katie Maloney of Vanderpump Rules may seem a little silly but it works really well. Take the thickest, bounciest maxi pad you can find and place it sticky side down in your shoe. You may have to trim it to make it fit (I didn’t). After testing this out with my most painful pair of heels for a day, I found that the shoe with the pad was much more comfortable than the shoe without. It was a much better cushion for my foot than any other shoe insert that I’ve tried–and cheaper as well. Plus it soaks up any sweat! The only downside is that it takes up a lot of room in your shoe, which might make things a bit tighter. I found that the overall increase in comfort from having a cushion was worth it, though. Oh, and of course you won’t be able to rely on this method with open heels like strappy sandals unless you want everyone to wonder why you stuck a maxi pad in your shoe.

Method 3: Tape

Some people swear by taping the third and fourth toes together to reduce the pain of wearing heels. I heard about this trick over a year ago during NYFW when I asked someone how she could wear her towering stilettos all day, but I never tried it until now. Pick up some nude medical tape if possible for this, especially if you’re wearing open-toe heels. I wouldn’t recommend using duct tape (ouch); a large bandaid might work in a pinch but I’m not sure if it has enough hold. I used washi tape, which worked fine: it’s not sticky enough to hurt when you rip it off, but it has a good amount of strength. So I went ahead and taped my third and fourth toes together. I didn’t think I did it too tightly, but it immediately felt horribly uncomfortable. I hadn’t even slipped my heels on yet. There’s no way this is going to work, I thought. And yet, work it did. After I walked around in the same painful heels all day with my toes taped together, I concluded that the heels were measurably less painful than usual. How does it work exactly? Apparently, it helps to take the pressure off the balls of your feet because there’s a nerve that splits between those two toes. The tape alleviates the pressure put on that nerve when you wear heels, making it noticeably less painful. Your feet will probably still hurt at the end of a long day wearing heels and having your toes taped together feels undeniably strange, but your most painful shoes won’t be nearly as tortuous as usual.

At the end of this three day experiment, I concluded that I will never wear heels again. Just kidding. In fact, I’d probably be willing to wear heels more often now that I have these tricks in my repertoire. I’d have a hard time saying which was more effective: the tape method or the maxi pad method. They both had their downsides: the taped toes felt uncomfortable and the maxi pad makes shoes tighter. However they both made it possible for me to wear heels for an entire day without wanting to cut off my feet. The effect of the Midol was hard to measure, although I’m sure it will help a lot if your feet tend to get very swollen after wearing high heels. In the future, I’ll probably just combine all three methods the next time I have to wear painful heels for a long period of time. I’m happy to take all the help I can get.

Hurts like Heel: How much does wearing high heels actually hurt?

Ladies, we all know heels aren’t the most practical of footwear. But that doesn’t make the struggle any less real, does it? Wearing high heels hurts, and men simply don’t understand just how much.

But where on the pain scale does high heel pain fall, and how does it compare to other common, uncomfortable afflictions? We made it our business to find out.

The women of the UK have spoken, and the official pain rating for wearing high heels is in. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is extremely painful and 10 is hardly painful at all, women placed high heel pain at an eye-watering 3. And the guys? Well, the male of the species has decided that high heel pain can’t possibly be that bad, placing it at a mildly uncomfortable 7. Ouch.

That’s quite the gap in opinions, proving that the age-old disagreement between men and women is still alive and kicking. If only there were a way to explain just how painful it can be…

High Heel Pain V.S Other Pain

Is high heel pain more or less painful than other common painful experiences? Our ladies have ranked them all, and here’s what we found.

The only types of pain that women say outstrips high heel pain are menstrual pain (2), childbirth (1) and breaking a bone (1). Men, on the other hand, have a very different idea of where these experiences fall on the pain scale.

They place childbirth at a much less painful 6, with menstrual pain at an easygoing 8. The only factor that both sexes agree on is breaking a bone, with men also placing this at an excruciating 1.

But what about what each gender thinks is equal to heel pain? Women put high heel pain on the same level as the highly uncomfortable and persistent hell that is toothache, both scoring a level 3. They also rank the experience of breaking up with a partner at the same level.

And men? They agree on the toothache front, but let’s not forget that they rank both toothache and high heel pain at a much less painful level 7. Men do, however, consistently view breaking up with a partner as a more painful experience than high heel pain and toothache, ranking it at a moderate level 5.

So perhaps men are a little more sensitive than women give them credit for? It’s possible, though men do also think that biting your tongue (4) and back pain (3) is even more painful than a relationship breakdown, so don’t get excited, ladies.

Unsurprisingly, men rank one particular painful experience as worse than all others apart from breaking a bone, and that’s getting kicked in the groin. Men place this at an eye-watering level 2, whereas women place it at an easygoing 8.

There’s a definite pattern here. It’s clearly not just men who underestimate the pain struggles of the opposite sex, where this has always been the traditional stereotype. Women, too, think that men lay it on thick when complaining about the physical pains they go through.

So is it time for men and women to recognise and appreciate each other’s plight? Or is it simply a case of agreeing to disagree? Most men will never truly appreciate the agony that wearing high heels can cause, and certainly not the agony of giving birth. And, equally, a woman will never truly know quite how painful getting kicked in the groin can be for a man.

At least we can all agree on one thing: breaking a bone is the ultimate king of pain.

A Sense of Occasion?

OK, so men and women will never agree on just how painful wearing high heels can be. But what about the occasions for wearing heels?

For some women, not wearing heels for certain occasions is tantamount to treason. Men, on the other hand, traditionally take a much more relaxed approach to such sartorial rules.

So we asked the UK’s men and women to tell us which occasions are heel-worthy, and which aren’t. Women told us which occasions they wear heels to, and men told us which occasions they think heels are appropriate for.

This should be interesting…

It seems that men and women generally agree that wearing heels is appropriate for a night out in the city, with 66% of women saying they wear them for this occasion and 65% of men agreeing that heels are a good shout.

It is a similar story for job interviews, with 52% of women saying they’d wear heels and 50% of men saying they feel this is appropriate.

Perhaps slightly surprisingly, there is a little less agreement on appropriate footwear for a wedding. A whopping 88% of women say they would definitely wear heels for this type of event, the highest score for the ladies, but only 70% of men saying they think heels should be worn here. Perhaps this is because men are tired of giving their other halves piggy backs through the car park at the end of the evening?

And it seems that the workplace is another area where opinions differ. Interestingly, despite 50% of men thinking women should wear heels for a job interview, only 2% of men think they should continue wearing them for a normal day at work. It might be down to a common view that interviewees of any gender need to impress at an interview and make more of an effort, whereas a regular day at work doesn’t call for the same level of effort. Or perhaps it is simply a view that heels might prove too impractical for an entire day of work, due to the pain factor. Only 13% of women say they wear heels for a regular working day, so perhaps the practicality factor is winning out here after all.

Gain Without Pain

High heels are always going to be a topic over which men and women disagree; it’s a classic bone of contention after all. But there is a middle ground to be reached. Not all high heels are painful to wear; in fact, there are some that are crafted especially for long-lasting comfort. Where? Gabor.

Larah Hunt, marketing manager at Gabor, says: “We believe that women shouldn’t have to choose between beautiful high heels and comfort; they should be able to get both at once. All of our shoes are crafted using the latest comfort technology to ensure us girls can wear the shoes we want without worrying about foot pain ruining the occasion.”

December 21, 2017 – 18:25 GMT Emmy Griffiths Our ultimate guide to walking in high heels without pain! Find out the different things you can try to make high heels comfortable

Christmas and New Year’s parties should have us dancing the night away, but amid the bubbles, karaoke and Secret Santa gifts is that pesky foot pain from having to keep those sparkly stilettos on for hours on end. High heels looked great but can be painful, and so to help we have put together top tips for being able to walk (and dance) in heels without pain. Check out our tips so you can party pain free!

For your toes in heels

Many people have lauded the method of taping toes to wear heels, and Osteopath Anisha Joshi of Woodside Clinic Regent Street has confirmed that this is a useful way to reducing pain. Chatting to HELLO!, she said: “They say you should tape your 3rd and 4th toes together as it takes the pressure off the ball of your foot. There is a nerve that splits between these two toes and by limiting the pressure placed on it, it can reduce the sensation of pain.”

Make your heels more comfortable

How can you make your most deadly party heels comfier?

Shoe expert Dr Naomi Braithwaite of Nottingham Trent University revealed that a good fit and a little help from gel insoles can go a long way. She told HELLO!: “Gel insoles can be delightful on the soles of the feet, particularly if you are going to be wearing at an occasion when standing is on the agenda. Ultimately fit is key so it is important to have heels that fit well and that have a padding in between the inner sock and sole of the shoe.”

Be prepared with plasters and gel cushions

She also suggested that going for a platform with your high heel, or a shorter heel, can drastically change your comfort levels, explaining: “Choose to wear a height that is manageable, this is pretty subjective, but having a less high heel or a platform sole can make a huge difference to comfort.” Anisha agreed, and advised to “get platform shoes that also have a heel under the ball of the foot to reduce the gradient of the foot”.

How does a thicker heel or a platform?

Dr Naomi explained: “When you wear a high heel there is a huge amount of pressure bearing down on the soles of the feet, so a platform sole underneath can diffuse the pressure. There is more padding between the foot and the pavement. Thick heels can be more comfortable for walking than stilettos, as again there is more surface area for the pressure.”

Try taping your toes

What about high heels if you have flat feet?

Naturally, wearing high heels is harder for people with flat feet, but this doesn’t mean you need to stick to ballet pumps forever! Dr Naomi explained that a wedge would definitely be the most helpful for you since they can keep your foot on the same level more or less, making heels much less painful.

Preparation is key!

To wear high heels without pain, Carnation Footcare’s Podiatrist Dave Wain has suggested that the most defence is to be prepared. If you know you are wearing heels that tend to hurt your feet after a certain amount of time, stock your bag with everything you need to help. He said: “Go prepared – have in your bag some first aid supplies to deal with potential foot problems before they get too painful i.e. sticky plasters for cuts, damaged toenails or bleeding blisters, anti-blister treatments for rubbing areas.” You could even also carry a pair of foldable flat shoes with you, just in case the heels prove too much at the end of the evening!

Get ready to dance the night away pain free!

Foot exercises you can try to help with the pain

As well as suggesting Carnation Footcare’s Gel Cushions, Dave suggested strengthening your feet and toes before a night out. He said: “Consciously straightening them and wiggling can really help. You can also increase your foot flexibility, which will help your feet to cope in heels by following these steps: Stand facing a wall about 2 feet away. Place one foot against the wall, 3/4 inches from the floor, keeping your heel on the floor. Gently move your knee towards the wall until you feel slight stretching. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times, and then do the same with the other foot.”

Get used to high heels

Wear your heels around the house before a night out to get a feel for them. This is particularly helpful while breaking in a new pair of stilettos, as you can suss out where the shoes might rub. One way to deal with this is to put on thick socks with your shoes before a night out and blow dry the area where the shoes might rub for half a minute, which would help the shoe to expand and stretch. Another method is to fill plastic bags with water and place them in your shoes, then put them in a freeze. The ice will help stretch out the shoes, making those nasty rubbing blisters a thing of the past!

Do high heels hurt

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