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Wearing a great pair of heels can make your legs look longer, show off your posture and even make you look taller. That’s one powerful shoe. I’m a mostly casual gal but even I like to pull out heels to make an outfit look put together for a special occasion, date night or work event. If you’re like me and you click around online, even in the “comfortable heels” sections you see photos of hundreds of shoes. All those choice make it hard to pick the right pair of heels that won’t hurt your feet. And if you’re one of us gals with problem feet, we have to make especially careful choices when it comes to heels for a special occasion or work event. At barkingdogshoes.com, we’ve reviewed lots of styles and choices and come up with our top picks of comfortable heels for women.
Most podiatrists are not a fan of high heels. Wearing heels moves the weight of your body forward and that can lead to issues with your forefeet and even other areas like your knees, hips and back because you are walking differently. (Remember even Cinderella only wore hers for a short time!) “High heeled shoes crowd the toes, force the body’s weight onto the ball of the foot and disrupt the body’s alignment. They can lead to a laundry list of problems for women and their feet,” so says the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons on their consumer site foothealthfacts.org. In addition, as we get older the natural fatty pads on the bottom of our forefoot often go away. This means pounding the pavement in heels may also be giving your feet a pounding.
According to an infographic from the Cleveland Clinic, wearing high heels can aggravate ball of foot pain, neuromas, plantar fasciitis, and even encourage the formation of bunions. But experts say wearing small, stable heels or wedge heels can help in some cases. Basically super high heels can be tough on your feet and pancake flat shoes without support can also be challenging.
If you’re going to wear heels or you need that look for a special occasion, experts like those from the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, have a few tips:
So how do you find comfortable, stylish heels that won’t leave your feet aching or irritate those bunions? Sorting through hundreds of styles and heel heights can be a challenge. At barkingdogshoes.com I’ve spent alot of time reviewing shoes to help identify heel options that not only look nice but are also comfortable heels for women. For instance, you may enjoy my review of comfortable shoes for special occasions or my write up on the beautiful Helle Comfort line of heels from Spain.
Here are a few quick tips to consider when shopping for comfortable heels:
Now for some more specifics on what to look for in shoes to find comfortable heels.
Heels for women range from high to low styles. The toes may be open, peep toe, round or pointy. The range of fabrics and colors are amazing. Here is an overview of the types of heels for women, with my picks of some comfortable, stylish heels that may work for your problem feet.
Pumps Pumps are shoes with a low cut front. Generally pumps cover the toe box but leaves your foot exposed. This style generally has no straps; pumps come with a flat or low heel, and are sometimes made as dancing shoes; A closed heel (aka counter) is one of the most popular styles.
Need fancier pumps for a work event or date night? We’ve even found comfortable, stylish sparkly pumps that can help your feet survive that event as well.
High heels We rarely recommend heels higher than two inches because podiatrists say wearing shoes with heels of more than two inches can be an issue for us gals with problem feet or for gals trying to avoid developing foot problems! One trick around that is to look for high heels that have a platform under the toe box. You can ‘subtract’ the platform height from the overall heel height to see what your feet are up against. If you love heels or need to wear them for a special occasion, you’ll want to check out my reviews of Comfortable Heels for Spring, to see cute styles for the warmer days and nights of spring and summer.
Generally I stay away from pointy toes for the sake of my metatarsalgia and other foot problems. But barkingdogshoes.com has a few pointy heels that fit in the comfortable category like the cute Franco Sarto Darlis. Apparently the toe box is wider than expected because online reviews say its is surprisingly comfortable. You should also check out my reviews of comfortable bridal shoes if you’re looking for lighter colored heels.
Kitten heel Typically kitten heels offer a heel height between 1 and 2 inches. This style of shoe may have a curve in by the heel itself. You’ll find gorgeous comfortable options in my review of Comfortable Dress Shoes for women. like the snakeprint Sofft Viina with a hidden platform and cushioned polyurethane midsole.
Lace up heels? Yes actually. Did you know some heels come with lace detailing? You’ll find this style and other comfortable options in my reviews for dress heels with arch support.
Peep toe Peep toe heels can come in many styles from tall, to platform or kitten heel styles. Shoes of this type have an opening at the toes that allows just a bit of your toes to “peep” through.
If you like the style, you’ll want to check out the beautiful shoes that are L’Amour des Pieds Oraine, a wedge peep toe with arch support that molds to your foot.
Stacked heels/Chunky heels Thick blocky heels can provide more support than pencil-thin styles by providing a wider base to distribute your weight. And they are right on trend. This style looks like the heels are made from stacked layers of wood, even if its not actual wood.
For a fun take on a chunky heel, consider the Hush Puppies Devynn Sisany with a special cushioned footbed in a 3 inch heel. That’s right we said 3 inche heel on a comfortable shoe blog!
We also give high marks to styles such as the Dansko Debby Healed Sandal
Wedges and espadrilles A wedge heel may be a solution for some gals with problem feet. This style offers a shoe with a sole flat the ground while giving you the height of a heel. In the espadrille style, the heel is typically covered in jute rope. Experts say wearing slight wedge heels instead of flats or flip flops may actually help ease the pain of conditions like plantar fasciitis.
I love the look of sculpted wedge sandals by Johnston and Murphy. They come in fun pops of color and padded footbeds. You can read more in my review of comfortable heels for spring.
Sometimes your workplace or indoor summer destinations with chilly AC, make it more practical to wear cute, closed toe wedges. You can find ideas for comfortable stylish wedge heels in my review of 7 Closed Toe Wedges You’ll Want To Consider.
If you want the comfort of a wedge without the look of a wedge style, we even found a pair of comfortable hidden wedges made by Wolky, another brand we love.
Platforms The platform shoe style raises your entire foot off the ground with a thick heel under your sole. Sometimes heels have platforms just at the forefoot to offset a higher heel or the platform can run the entire shoe. Platforms can help us gals with problem feet by raising the front of your foot closer to your heel, reducing the pressure on your arches and the balls of your feet. And many are made of special cushioned materials. Comfortable platform shoes for women include styles by Sasha London and the Dansko Joanie, a platform summer sandal with excellent support which may adjust across bunions.
Slingback The slingback style of shoe refers to shoes with a strap that crosses behind your heel or ankle. Slingback heeled sandals can be casual or dressy depending on the material, the strap size and the toe style, which may be open or closed.
Check out the funky fun slingbacks a Chicago-area reader swears by on her busy job.
Round toe heels Round toe shoes can make wide feet look smaller. They also typically offer more room around the toes than almond toe or pointy toe heels. I recommend styles like the Hotter Donna, a Victorian looking heel that shouldn’t bother bunions. Fluevog also has options. If you’d like a lower heel, fun sandal, we’ve found supportive T strap styles you may love. Hispanitas offers a trendy metallic style in a low heel round toe pump.
So there you have it. An overview of the types of heels for women with some comfortable stylish options. If you don’t love a particular shoe we recommend, check out the rest of the line from that brand. They may have another style you love.
Send your questions or share your comfortable heels favorites!
We hope our advice on finding comfortable stylish heels for women with problem feet has been helpful.
Found a style you love that’s not on our list? Let us know! Contact me with your question or comment.
The Cleveland Clinic – Infographic: How to choose the best shoes for your feet
American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons consumer information site
Note: the above content is not intended to be medical advice or substitute for seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional. We’re talking shoes here.
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