For many women, a good pair of heels can seem like a best friend. For others, they can be appear as a worst enemy. There are so many types of heels a woman can choose from: kitten heels, wedges, stilettos, pumps, high heeled boots, sandals with a heel.

Women wear heels for a variety of reasons.

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They can makes your legs look leaner, add height, and just make you feel sexier overall. But even a good pair of heels can have negative side effects on your body. Personally, whenever I put on a pair of heels, my left calf erupts in violent muscle spasms making it painful to walk.

However, there are several simple, proactive steps you can take to help protect your body and your feet. You don’t have to give up your shoes completely, but you do have to be careful about how long you wear them.

Your Back

When in a regular standing position, your spine is straight. However, the moment you put on a pair of heels and stand up, however, this is no longer the case. Your chest is pushed forward, which also pushes forward your hips, throwing your spine out of alignment. You end up overarching your back, causing a strain on your knees, hips and lower back.

Feet

The higher your heels are, the more likely you are to end up with an injury, such as a sprained ankle. Because your feet are being pushed downwards, pressure increases on the ball of your foot. Therefore, your toes are squished into an unnatural position that can cause long term effects, leading to possible surgery. Also, the shoe rubbing against certain parts of the foot can cause calluses, corns and blisters.

Nerves

Pain, strained neck muscles, and muscle spasms can all occur because wearing high heels can shorten the muscles in the calves and lower back. Sciatica is also common in women who wear high heels often when the lower back and gluteal muscles try to overcorrect and create pressure on the sciatic nerve.

Pain Prevention:

Choose low heels: Lower heels with a wider base offer more substantial support for your feet. Your weight is allowed to be distributed more evenly, whereas you’re more unbalanced in heels like stilettos.

Don’t wear pointed toe heels: By choosing a rounder toed shoe, your toes have more space and won’t be forced together.

Wear soft insoles: Soft insoles help to reduce the pressure on your knees and spine.

Don’t wear your heels for long periods of time: Choose to wear heels on days you  know you won’t have to walk around/be on your feet a lot.

Stretch your calf muscles every day: Be sure to stretch your leg muscles every day both with and without your heels on to warm up your legs so your muscles will not be as strained when you’re wearing your shoes.

Make sure you’re wearing the right size: If you’re wearing the correct size, your feet will not slide forward as much, lessening the pressure on the toes.

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