How to... Cure a high heel hangover

Published: 2011-09-26 10:48:17

We’ve all been there — you’ve spent the previous day tottering around in towering heels and you wake up with aching calves and feet that feel as if they’ve gone five rounds with boxer Mike Tyson. We call it the high-heel hangover.
Flat shoes may have been big news this summer, but autumn is seeing a return to towering heels. But don’t fret just yet — Harley Street podiatrist, Mr Stephen Strain, has some top tips on how to sidestep that painful morning after a night out in your Louboutins.

The less frequently you wear heels, and the higher they are, the more painful the hangover. Your calf muscle contracts when lifting the leg to walk but, in high-heels, your ankle is a few inches off the ground before taking a step, so the calf has to work much harder, contracting tighter. If your muscle isn’t used to it, like going to the gym for a work out it will stiffen up the next day.

It’s better to wear heels frequently and get your muscles used to working in that high-intensity range than occasionally throw on the odd skyscraper. Sporadic use of high-heels (binge wearing) is disruptive for your calves. Ideally, you should wear a mid-to-low heel most days, then an occasional high one. This way, your body gets used to it and accepts it.

It’s important your heels fit properly. Your toes should have space to move. If your shoes have a point, the point must come after the toes so as not to squish them together, resulting in hammer toe — this is a particularly unsightly affliction where your toes are deformed and permanently bent.
Thin silicone pads which go underneath the ball of your foot inside the shoe are good for absorbing impact. A wedged heel is less demanding on leg muscles, as it has a larger surface area, so is more stable. The thinner the heel, the more impact on your foot.