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Women invite foot problems with high heels. High heels may contribute to knee and back problems, disabling injuries in falls, shortened calf muscles, and an awkward, unnatural gait. In time, high heels may cause enough changes in the feet to impair their proper function. Most women admit high heels make their feet hurt, but they tolerate the discomfort in order to look taller, stylish, and more professional.
There are ways to relieve some of the abusive effects of high heels, however. Women can limit the time they wear them by alternating with good-quality oxford-type shoes or flats for part of the day. Tight-fitting high heels only compound the abuse.
Fortunately, women have other heel-size choices. Key is wearing the right shoe for the right activity - and that means varying heel height, and determining what heel is most suitable.
For example, there are comfortable and attractive "walking" pumps (also called "comfort" or "performance" pumps) for women for work and social activities. Several companies have also designed footwear for certain athletic activities, including aerobics, specifically for women.
Experts say the best shoes for women may be:
- A walking shoe with ties (not a slip-on). A long vamp (top of the toes) helps hold the shoe onto the foot and prevents curling of the toes to keep the shoe on
- A Vibram type composition sole. These are rubber, semi flexible.
- A relatively wider heel, no more than a 1.5 inches height. Too flat and there will be increased pressure on the ball of the foot, curling of the toes, overpronation and a strain on the Achilles tendon, knees and lower back. Most people feel most comfortable in a shoe with a one inch heel.