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It takes one hour, six minutes and 48 seconds for our high heels to start hurting, according to a recent survey by the College of Podiatry in UK.
The survey involved 2,000 women and men and for a more delicate 20% of respondents, the pain starts after just ten minutes, while more than a third said their feet had been so sore on a night out that they danced shoeless and walked home barefoot.
So what can we do to lessen the pain?
1. Never buy online
“First things first, shoes have to fit properly,” says podiatrist Emma Supple.
“If they’re tight or rubbing, even just a tiny bit, don’t buy them. You will not break in the shoes – they will break you. This is why you should never buy them online, as you’ve got to try them on.”
The right fit should be snug but with some room for your toes to wriggle and not be squashed. Too small and you’ll get blisters and deformed toes – a condition called hammer toe.
Too big and your feet will slide down and put more pressure on your toes. Where possible, ask to try a half size up or down to see if that helps.
If the shoe is pointed, the point must come after your toes end so they’re not squished together.
According to Emma Supple, it’s better to avoid them altogether.
“A slightly rounded toe is always going to be more comfortable,” she says.
2. Are your heels in the right position?
Contrary to popular belief, wedges are not necessarily better for your feet than spiked heels.
“I’ve seen a woman doubled over with pain after wearing wedges,” says Emma Supple.
“There’s very little flexibility in them and you have to lift your feet right off the ground to walk, stomping your foot back down afterwards.
“The important thing is not the style or thickness of the heel, it’s the position of it. It needs to be right under the heel bone, not at the back of the foot, as is the case with some shoes. If the stiletto is positioned too far back, you are going to be thrown off balance and everything will hurt.”
It takes one hour, six minutes and 48 seconds for our high heels to start hurting
3. Why budget buys may cost you dear
Avoid the temptation to buy cheap heels for a night out. Chances are they will be made of plastic, which will make your feet sweat and swell – making the shoes pinch.
Also, plastic has very little give, meaning you are more likely to get blisters where it rubs. Shoes with a leather lining, on the other hand, are softer and suppler and less likely to rub.
4. How to stop them rubbing
If your shoes are stiff and rubbing at the heel, try a suede heel grip.
Hikers – who have to deal with blisters every day – swear by Moleskin Plus by Dr Scholl’s, which comes in a roll. It’s very soft and you cut as much as you need and stick it to different areas of the foot.
Pedag’s anti-slip slingback stickers are also brilliant. You stick the soft leather strip into your slingback straps and it stops them from falling down and prevents friction.
5. Non-surgical solutions
Die-hard heel lovers are now having fillers injected into the balls of their feet to help with the pain, but there are less drastic alternatives. Soft gel-filled cushions can relieve the pressure put on the balls of your feet, especially if your shoes have thin soles.
Dr Scholl’s “party feet” gel cushions are still the most popular but M&S do a good range, too.
“Be careful of ones that are so thick they squish your feet more than they already are,” says Emma Supple.
6. Put your feet in ice
“Forget soaking your feet in a hot bath after a long day – you need to ease the pain with cold,” says Emma Supple.
“After wearing high heels your feet get swollen, so when you come home put them in a cold bath for 15 minutes to reduce the swelling. Then before you go to bed apply some foot cream. This restores the suppleness of the skin, which will help prevent it from cracking and blistering.”
Try Supple London Mineral Foot cream or Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Foot Cream. Keep your toenails short so they don’t dig into your skin when your toes are in narrow shoes.
7. Which brands are best?
Not all heels are equal but many high-street brands are now designing heels with comfort in mind.
From autumn, all M&S’s shoes will have padded “Insolia” soles, which promise to re-distribute the weight away from the balls of your feet and are meant to be three times more comfortable than normal heels. They already have a selection in the Autograph range.
Clarks have really upped their game recently and combined comfort and style, even more so with the Mary Portas collections and their “soft wear” styles.
Geox used to be known for their practical styles made of breathable materials and thick shock absorbing soles, but they’ve started to make more glamorous styles, teaming up with designer Patrick Cox.
Spanish shoemaker Chie Mihara studied orthopedics, which means her collection of high heels are the most comfortable around. Most come with thick, adjustable ankle straps to support the foot.
Even Lucy Choi, the niece of Jimmy Choo and the latest darling of the shoe world, has just launched a gorgeous but practical collection of mid-height heels with gel-padded soles.
Lady Gaga has been reunited with her favorite heels as she hit the town in New York in her trademark super high boots.
Lady Gaga’s re-emergence comes after she was seen wheeling around the Big Apple in a gold wheelchair, and then kitten heels.
A brief appearance at the premiere of The Great Gatsby revealed a severe short crop, but it seems that was a side show for the main event as she attended the Versace Versus party back to her usual self complete with long blonde hair and Frankenstein height boots.
Lady Gaga, 27, wore an asymmetric babydoll style minidress, presumably by Versace, which she accessorized with a yellow fur clutch.
Lady Gaga has been reunited with her favorite heels as she hit the town in New York in her trademark super high boots
However, the singer didn’t look completely confident, as she reached out to a pole for balance.
Lady Gaga clearly can’t wait to get back into the mix after being out of action for almost four months, as she reportedly played partygoers at the fashion event snippets of her new album.
The singer has been lying low since undergoing an operation on her hip to deal with a labral tear in February. She was forced to cancel her Born This Way Ball tour and doctors told her to take six months off.
Lady Gaga revealed on Twitter that she dealt with chronic pain for several months prior to seeking medical help, but chose to ignore its effects rather than disappoint her fans.
She has kept a low profile throughout her recovery, but was photographed in Chicago, Illinois, for her birthday last month.
Lady Gaga was seen in a wheelchair while visiting boyfriend Taylor Kinney, who works on location in the city filming the NBC drama Chicago Fire.
But clearly she couldn’t wait to dig out her boots as she enjoyed a night out.
However, Lady Gaga’s re-emergence in heels may be somewhat premature – as doctors have banned the singer from performing until September.
Friends said the decision had left her crushed. A source told The Mirror: “She has a bunch of projects she wants to roll on but she needs clearance from doctors. It’s really frustrating for her. She won’t be back in action until September.”
In another of her infrequent appearances, Lady Gaga – whose real name is Stephani Germanotta- showed off a platinum blonde bob in April as she enjoyed a night at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood.
The singer was wearing white power, heavy blush and winged eyeliner and a white top with plunging back.
Accompanied by a blonde friend, Lady Gaga looked rather sleepy as she rode home in the white convertible.
As she is taking time out of the spotlight to recuperate from her injury, Lady Gaga was probably enjoying the rest from her dramatic hairstyles or wigs we often see her sporting.
She previously admitted in an interview that she has to get her hair cut short quite regularly because her locks are in such bad condition from all the chemicals and dye she uses.
Lady Gaga, a natural brunette, told People magazine two years ago: “I have to get a chemical haircut because my blonde hair is falling out.”
After she raised eyebrows on Thursday as she crammed her swollen feet into Perspex heels, with painful looking results, Kim Kardashian finally seems to be giving her feet a much needed rest.
Kim Kardashian, 32, who up until now has only worn flats for trips to the gym, ditched the sky high shoes and slipped into some far more comfortable ballet pumps on Saturday.
Kim Kardashian, who up until now has only worn flats for trips to the gym, ditched the sky high shoes and slipped into some far more comfortable ballet pumps
The reality star was seen arriving at LAX airport in Los Angeles in the early hours of the morning alongside her mother Kris Jenner.
Kim Kardashian sported an all-black ensemble for her flight, which along with her flats consisted of trousers, a loose-fitting top and a long unbuttoned coat.
She went make-up free for the early morning outing but shielded her bare face with oversized aviator sunglasses, sweeping her brunette locks into a slick ponytail.
Kim Kardashian clutched a black tote and red carrier bag, while her mother and manager lugged a huge Louis Vuitton case around.
KrisJenner, 57, was also dressed down in black leggings tucked into matching leather boots, along with a white shirt and soft wool coat.
Along with her huge suitcase Kris Jenner carried a quilted black handbag and a houndstooth neck pillow to keep her comfortable during the flight.
Kim Kardashian tottered out in a pair of sky-high perspex high heels on Thursday after she complained that a pair of caged Givenchy heels had hurt her swollen feet just last week.
Heavily pregnant Kim Kardashian’s feet were so swollen that she barely managed to squeeze them into the footwear.
Puffy, her ankles were also clearly suffering, even appearing severely pinched in the stylish shoes.
But the 32-year-old reality star was keen to power on, strutting around while wearing another item of clothing that was very tight.
Kim Kardashian wore a clingy white shift dress for the afternoon outing.
Heavily pregnant Kim Kardashian’s feet were so swollen that she barely managed to squeeze them into the footwear
The attire was a similar design to a black frock she had slipped into earlier this month to promote her clothing line in Dallas, Texas.
Kim Kardashian’s dress featured what appeared to be an attached matching white cape and of course, her stilettos.
The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star wore her hair out in a straight style and had her usual smoky eye and nude lip combination applied for make-up.
She was joined by her mother Kris Jenner, who beamed at her daughter as she surveyed her outfit.
Kim Kardashian was dressed-to-the-nines to film scenes for her reality TV show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
Kris Jenner, 57, was also wearing white in the form of a white blazer.
She paired the item with a Kardashian staple – a pair of leather trousers.
Kim Kardashian complained about her swollen feet when she tweeted a snap of them after wearing caged Givenchy boots all day
The reality matriarch and manager also got around in a pair of sky-high heels – hers a pair of suede ankle boots.
The mother-of-six also toted a patterned Givenchy handbag – the designer a favorite of the family.
Earlier this month, Kim Kardashian complained about her swollen feet when she tweeted a snap of them after wearing caged Givenchy boots all day.
Meanwhile recent reports claimed that Kanye West wouldn’t be around following the birth of their child in July because he is planning on embarking on a world tour later this year, following the release of his new album.
However, following claims that she would be left alone with a young baby, TMZ.com have now revealed that Kim Kardashian is planning on joining her beau on the road along with their child.
The website claims that the touring company has been asked to provide cribs and soundproof hotel rooms to provide the most comfortable accommodation for the couple and their baby throughout the tour.
However, Kim Kardashian is contractually obliged to remain in town over the winter for filming of her family reality show Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
“Kim just feels like she can’t win,” the source added.
“She feels that both of their work schedules are going to prevent them from spending quality time together after the baby is born.”
Researchers have found that heels can “emphasize femininity” and change the way the entire body moves, including the pelvis, hips, legs, knees, feet and even the shoulders.
Scientists at the University of Portsmouth found that women wearing heels were rated as more attractive than when wearing flat shoes, even when those making the judgement are unable to see faces or bodies.
The study appears in the scientific journal Evolution and Human Behavior.
Researchers wrote that “evolution may partly explain the continuing popularity of high heels as an article of the female wardrobe”.
“If wearing high heels emphasizes some sex-speciﬁc aspects of the female form they may make women more attractive, and one motivation, which may be conscious or unconscious, for wearing heels is that it is part of mate selection,” The Independent on Sunday reports.
Researchers have found that heels can emphasize femininity and change the way the entire body moves
As part of the research women were filmed walking for four minutes wearing identical flat shoes and 6 cm heels.
All women who took part in research had an average of around 10 pairs of heels, which they wore at least once a week.
To ensure the women were rated on how attractive they were purely based on their high heels researchers used a technique called point-light display which highlights points of the body with lit markers.
It means the judges would see only the patterns of these lights as the woman walks.
Men and women viewed 30-second video clips of the walkers in high heels and flat shoes moving towards them and rated them on femininity and attractiveness.
In each case the women were rated as more attractive in heels.
Women judges also rated them as more attractive than the men did.
A second experiment – asking judges to guess whether the person walking towards them was a man or woman – saw women wearing flat shoes twice as likely to be viewed as a man.
It was also discovered that an average woman walked more quickly in heels, changing from 106 to 110 steps a minutes, but with shorter strides – from 1.24 to 1.20 metres.
The researchers wrote: “Women in high heels walked in a fashion more characteristic of female gait. The results are consistent with the idea that wearing high heels makes women look more attractive, and added: ‘Fashions by their very nature are ephemeral, but fashions that endure, such as high heels, may emphasize sex-specific aspects of the body.”
Up to 100 runners, men and women, from the Marikina suburb of Manila in the Philippines competed in the whacky annual race, Tour of Heels.
Competitors scrambled along a 500-metre track in heels at least three inches high in an unusual test of balance and endurance.
Tour of Heels takes place to celebrate the shoe festival in Marikina, which is known as the shoe capital of the country.
Men and women were kept separate during the event to prevent any injuries as they raced to the finish line.
Runner Karel Blances admitted: “It is difficult having to tiptoe and I salute those women who wear high heels. It definitely hurts to wear them.”
Up to 100 runners, men and women, from the Marikina suburb of Manila in the Philippines competed in the whacky annual race, Tour of Heels
Competitors wore a range of flamboyant outfits to match their stilettos in a bid to win the “shoe-perstar award” for the most glamorous runner.
Glendolly Sumait wore her bridal dress to try to claim the award and finish first. But she was let down by the bulkiness of her dress.
She said: “It is easier to run with rubber shoes because you can easily run fast, instead of wearing heels where you need to look sexy while running.”
Cash prizes were awarded to the quickest and best dressed runners of the race.
Gerald De Asis, who fended off competition to be crowned the winner of the men’s division, said the secret to his success was willpower and technique.
He said: “You have to balance yourself so you won’t trip and don’t think about what you’re wearing. Just keep running.”
Power flat is proving to be strong competition as the go-to shoe for female executives who have had enough of sore feet while trying to keep up with their male counterparts.
Christina Binkley, from The Wall Street Journal, wrote: “Long stuck in the purgatory of casual wear, flats are suddenly being promoted for polished occasions.”
Although power heels create height, lengthen the legs and arch the foot just so, they also slow women down.
So flats that are sleek enough to be dress shoes are now taking women from the boardroom to the bar with the same attention and authority.
Women, who often spend the day changing in and out of uncomfortable power heels, usually lag behind the fast-paced strides of male colleagues, teetering over cobble-stoned streets and dodging sidewalk cracks.
They have long lugged around over-size handbags just to carry a pair of walking shoes, so they can awkwardly change into stilettos for their next big meeting.
Or, they simply spend enormous amounts of wasted income on cabs thanks to sore, pinched feet from four-inch heels.
However, this season flats are commanding attention just as much as the highest heel, a sign perhaps that a woman’s average day is becoming more demanding, faster and busier than ever – jugglinglong days at work, families, trips to the gym and active social lives.
Power flat is proving to be strong competition as the go-to shoe for female executives who have had enough of sore feet while trying to keep up with their male counterparts
Luisa De Paula, Buying & Merchandising Director of My-Wardrobe.com, explained: “Today’s woman has an ever busier lifestyle.
“Walking or even running to a meeting or to the school gates means practicality. It doesn’t mean scrimping on style, it’s a modern chic and very 60s look, which is very key for next season.”
Pointy toes, metal toe caps and embellishments like spikes, studs and gemstones; as well as strong colors, materials like snakeskin, tweed and patent leather are some of the details that give these flats their powerful edge.
While masculine Oxfords were all over the fall collections, pointy-toed flats and smoking slippers are on the agenda for next spring – and none of them hold the quintessential casual image that often comes with flat shoes – such as ballet flats.
At both Marc Jacobs and Giorgio Armani, flats were paired with tailored suits and eveningwear.
Power flats are an especially welcome alternative for the many executives who are unable to wear heels for health reasons. And working women have taken note.
“We have seen a significant increase in sales of flat shoes against last season and what we term the <<statement flat>>,” said Luisa De Paula.
“Key sellers have been glitter, studded and patent styles by Marc by Marc Jacobs, Lucy Choi, Sam Edelman and Red Valentino.”
But how to wear the new angular flat? Christina Binkley advised: “Think of the way Carla Bruni-Sarkozy has worn them since marrying her much-shorter husband, the former president of France.
“Often with slim pants or a trim skirt or dress that elongates the body.”
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard fell flat on her face when her heel became stuck in the grass in India.
Julia Gillard was on a goodwill visit to India when she took the tumble in what was her third faux pas involving her shoes this year.
She famously lost a blue suede shoe during an Aboriginal demonstration in Canberra in January and just two months ago she slipped out of one of her high heels while walking on stage at a function at Sydney’s Custom House.
Now she’s gone down again, this time following a visit to the Gandhi Memorial in New Delhi on the final day of her three-day state visit to India.
Julia Gillard was being escorted to the Presidential Palace by a group of officials when she suddenly fell forward heavily onto the grass, landing on her hands and knees.
As aides turned to help her up she told them: “I’m fine. My heel got stuck in grass.”
Julia Gillard fell flat on her face when her heel became stuck in the grass
Later she laughed off the incident, explaining that unlike men who wore flat shoes, it was an occupational hazard for women wearing modest heels.
“I’m fine,” she repeated.
“For men who get to wear flat shoes all day every day, if you wear a heel it can get embedded in soft grass and when you pull your foot out the shoe doesn’t come and the rest of it is as you saw.”
When someone suggested that perhaps she could wear boots to prevent similar mishaps she brushed the idea aside.
That, she said, would lead to all kinds of fashion critiques in Australia where she would be faulted for wearing boots with a skirt.
Of the three shoe incidents she has been involved in this year, the tumble in Delhi was the most spectacular.
But as drama goes, the day Julia Gillard was surrounded by angry protesters in Canberra was the most frightening, with minders whisking her away from the shouting.
Behind her she left that blue sued shoe which some demonstrators threatened to sell on eBay – before it was returned to her.
British clinician Martin Bell is so fed up with treating women for joint pain because of their high heels he has devised a course – to teach them to walk properly.
Martin Bell, 40, has been inundated with women complaining of back and knee pain because of their “wonky” posture on high heels.
The clinical orthotist has already helped hundreds of women by teaching them to stand and use their leg muscles properly and “fight” what their body has become used to.
He said that unless women walk in high heels correctly they could end up with chronic joint problems which could take years to resolve.
Martin Bell said: “I got fed up with so many girls coming through my clinic with back pain and numb feet and who suffer from wonky standing.
“I have to say I have an agenda against the Great British wobbly bottom, it’s that which means girls are unable to walk in heels.
“This is my venture to try and access these girls before they start coming to my clinic. We can do something now to change this and improve their posture.
“When I see girls who wear heels one of the most frequent problems related to them are weak knees and back pain.
“I work with them to look at their physical strength and muscle tightness, our legs are shock absorbers so if we aren’t walking properly they are going to hurt.”
Martin Bell’s unique course – called Perfectly Poised – takes place in his offices in the posh suburb of Clifton, Bristol, UK.
Martin Bell’s course Perfectly Poised takes place in his offices in the posh suburb of Clifton
It involves filming his client walking in her heels and then playing back the footage to analyze her walk.
He examines the way in which each girl uses their legs and back when walking, picking out subtle hints with their posture that could help alleviate their pain.
Martin Bell then gives them exercises to help strengthen any weak muscles and improve their walk.
He said his main clients stem from those who have never trained to improve their muscle control.
“The difficulty is if a girl has never done any running or never ever been to the gym or trained to improve their muscle control and suddenly jumps into a pair of heels,” Martin Bell said.
“The body cannot understand what has just happened and she thinks she can walk like she does in a pair of flip flops or ugg boots.
“She then runs the risk of going head over heels like a new born calf.
“The girls can end up standing like stalks too, with their knees entirely flexed and thus they get a lot of lower back pain.
“My other clientele stem from those middle-aged successful business women who suddenly realize there is a young girl in their office who can strut around with no problem in heels.
“They feel heels give them power so they are desperate to use them, but end up with crippling pain.”
Martin Bell added that he understands the need to wear heels, but feels that if women want to they should be properly equipped with the right knowledge of how to use them.
He said: “I’m not saying they are not fabulous things, they are, unfortunately, a necessary evil in working life.
“From asking the girls they have all said that heels can give extra height and confidence. They said it is head turning, dynamic and more powerful.
“It is also, of course, that girls tend to feel sexier in heels because it instantly makes every girl’s legs longer.
“They just need to know how to walk in them properly.”
Women can chose to attend either a group programme, or a one-to-one session to improve their walk and posture.
They are advised to wear comfortable clothing which shows off their curves so a better assessment can be made of their posture.
Christian Louboutin has admitted he does not care whether women feel pain wearing his sought-after heels.
Instead, Christian Louboutin claimed most women had a “quasi-masochistic experience” with their stilettos – and that anyone struggling to walk in his creations should ditch them altogether.
The French cobbler has single-handedly transformed the six-inch stiletto from Cabaret prop to closet staple.
His iconic red soles are also responsible for a plethora of podiatric ailments.
Rather than feel any regret for inflicting pain on many a discerning fashionista however, Christian Louboutin has adopted a “take it or leave it attitude”.
Among his long-suffering fans is Coleen Rooney, who last week was spotted wearing Louboutin heels to the Grand National at Aintree. On Sunday, however, the 26-year-old tweeted a photograph of her wearing trainers, saying: “Loving my Converse, just what I need after three days at the races with sky high heels on.”
Victoria Beckham has also reportedly experienced severe bunions and a slipped disc by wearing Christian Louboutin creations.
Christian Louboutin, 49, says he feels little sympathy for those who suffer while wearing his designs, describing the relationship between a woman and her heels as a quasi-masochistic experience.
Christian Louboutin says he feels no sympathy for those who suffer while wearing his designs, describing the relationship between a woman and her heels as a quasi-masochistic experience
He told Grazia magazine: “I really have not so much sympathy. If Tina Turner and Prince’s back-up band can perform on stage in them for three hours, you can’t tell me they are impossible to walk in.
“High heels are pleasure with pain.
“If you can’t walk in them, don’t wear them.”
Celebrating his 20th anniversary, Christian Louboutin’s high-end label is the subject of a an exhibition at the London Design Museum next month.
He has also released a coffee-table book, a weighty tome that marks two decades in fashion and his path from intern to A-lister.
Christian Louboutin’s journey as a cobbler began at Paris music hall Folies Bergere, where he first worked and was inspired by the world of Cabaret – a theme which still features heavily in his collections today.
So much so that he recently accepted a role as “guest creator” at Crazy Horse.
But he credits his breakthrough moment to Tina Turner, who wore his designs at a concert ten years ago.
With a stellar career behind him, it’s hard to imagine what would be next on Christian Louboutin’s to-do list.
But it appears he has his sights set on a new genre of clients.
Christian Louboutin said: “If I could do shoes for anyone it would be a special project for the Queen of England.
“She and the Pope are the ultimate clients.”