Uncomfortable shoes can make a long day at work much longer, not to mention painful. High heels are rough on your feet and ballet flats don't feel much better, but somewhere in the middle are stylish and comfortable work shoes for women.
In short, it's all about their structure. High heels hurt your feet because the elevation at your heel shifts your body weight forward. That puts increased pressure on the balls of your feet and your toes, and that leaves your feet in agony. Yet, despite being a leading cause of foot pain, high heels are still a popular choice.
Neal M. Blitz, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.) and foot and ankle surgeon says, “It’s important to recognize that walking in high heels itself is unnatural.” In fact, your body and feet will gradually begin to compensate for your unnatural gait, leading to:
Tightness in the calf muscle and Achilles tendon
Weakness of the toes
Instability of the ankle
If you have to wear high heels, one of the best ways to prevent future foot problems is to reduce the amount of time you wear them. As Matthew G. Garoufalis, D.P.M., former president of the American Podiatric Medical Association contends, “With high heels, moderation is key. It’s best not to wear them every day.”
Our best advice?
Wear sneakers or other supportive shoes during your commute. Wearing supportive shoes (with insoles) if your commute involves walking will help keep your feet happy. Change into your heels when you get to the office.
Try not to wear your heels everyday. There are lots of non-high heel options that are appropriate work attire. If you can wear those to the office some days and vary your shoe choice, that will help out a lot. Make sure you add insoles for comfort and support.
Modify your heels. Find a cobbler in your area and see how they can modify your heels. Adding rubber soles and heel tips will increase the thickness of the sole, prevent slipping, and increase comfort.
As Garoufalis states, “Daily heel-wearing can cause the Achilles tendon, the strong tendon at the back of your ankle, to shrink. This increases your risk of an injury while doing activities in flat shoes, including exercise.” Taking care of your feet when you're wearing high heels is the best way to prevent injury.
While you've heard the consequences your feet suffer because of high heels, of wearing heels, you know there are still some occasions that require them. When no other shoe will do, find high heels that:
If you're now ready to swear off high heels forever and you need to build out your low-heeled shoe wardrobe, you might be wondering which shoes brands you should look at for options that are both comfortable and stylish. Here are a few of our top picks.
We recommend trying shoes on in a store before purchasing. Walk around. Wear your work attire with them to see if their height is compatible with your hem. And remember, the end of the day is the best time to go shoe shopping because your feet are at their largest.
As a matter of personal preference, flats and high heels are on par. But, if you're concerned about keeping your feet healthy, happy and comfortable, flats are a better option than high heels. And while they have their upsides, there's also a downside.
Flats are less likely to cause conditions like hammer toe, bunions, or even stress fractures because they distribute your weight evenly over your foot. Obliviously that's a good thing. They're also great for keeping your foot level. Another good thing. The downsides? Most flats have thin soles, provide little or no shock absorption, and have minimal arch support.
Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, Hillary Brenner, likens ballet flats to cardboard: "There’s no arch support whatsoever.” In fact, women who wear unsupportive shoes like these face some risks, starting with overpronation.
Overpronation – when your foot rolls too far inward and your arch collapses – can cause sore feet, and it puts you at higher risk for foot injuries. Other possible problems include knee and hip pain, and plantar fasciitis.
You can increase the support of your flats by:
Like heels, flats must be purchased wisely. We recommend the following when looking for the most comfortable women's work shoes:
Naturalizer. These flats have thicker, rubber soles and a wide toe box. Naturalizer is an affordable option which is helpful if you need to add multiple pairs to your wardrobe.
Tieks combine style, comfort, and support. They come in countless colors and patterns. They’re also on Oprah’s highly-coveted O-List. They feature thin rubber soles and can fold up to easily fit in your bag.
Earthies are another great brand of ballet flats with support. Earthies specialize in truly walkable footwear. They have many styles to choose from and are available online and in stores.
Rothys. The newcomers are showing up just about everywhere you look these days. Made from recycled water bottles, they're hand-crafted and machine washable. With a wide variety of styles and colors, there's something for everyone.
Even flats with some support need insoles as the support that is built-in is minimal. Shoe companies are limited in the amount of support they can put into shoes - if they make the arches too high, some customers will find them uncomfortable. So, they make them lower to accommodate the largest number of people. That means even “supportive” footwear is usually not sufficient.
The best insoles for ballet flats will:
It is possible to combine style and comfort in the workplace. You don’t need to sacrifice comfort for fashion. Wearing proper footwear and taking care of your feet will allow you to perform better on the job. A great pair of insoles can add support to women's flats that need it.
Questions? Drop us a line at email@example.com. We're here to help.
Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.
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