The ultimate guide to getting back into heels
So, you’ve spent the last few months cleaning vomit off your UGGs and sporting your activewear. And now you’re dreading the thought of putting your feet back into work (or party) appropriate footwear – and rightly so! Here’s how to emerge from maternity leave without any embarrassing blunders or injury.
Get into fine form
To build high heel stamina, following a proactive conditioning strategy is key. This will not only prevent a foot and ankle blow out but will also have your pins in ship-shape.
Start wearing your heels around the house a week or two prior to your return to work. Aim to maintain perfect form by keeping your heel vertical – this will kick on your calf muscle. Once you lose your form, or your legs start to burn, that’s your cue to revert back to your sneakers. Repeat the following day, or a few hours later, aiming to increase the time frame you are able to tolerate. You may need to start with a lower, chunkier heel, and work your way up into a higher, narrower heel over a period of time.
Don’t forget to offset your heel-wearing mileage with a daily stretching session of your calf muscles and your shin muscles, as well as rolling your feet over a cold wine bottle. To stretch your shins, sit with your left ankle leg crossed over the right knee, pulling down gently on your toes and holding for 30 seconds. Repeat x 3, then swap sides.
Reacquaint with your old faithfuls
The last thing your feet need following a high heel hiatus is to endure the wearing-in process of a brand-new pump! Instead, giving your old-faithfuls the royal make-over can save you a day’s pay and the associated new shoe anguish. But, before you get too excited, there is a simple trick that will tell you when it’s time for remedial works to be done, or will identify if your shoe has already had its heyday.
The trick? Stand the heels on a flat surface and level your eyes with the heel. Does the heel stand vertically and solid? If the balance is significantly out of sorts, there is probably no hope for redemption. Though if it is simply the heel cap worn down, your local cobbler can polish them up to be good-as-new.
Make an informed choice
There are some shoe characteristics that are better for your feet than others. In the most part, if it’s high fashion, it’s probably not ideal for everyday use.
Wearing your trainers for your commute, then your “comfy heels” or flats for the majority of the time and only swapping into your high fashion heels for important meetings and events, can be a good compromise.
As a general rule, the following shoe features are the key to high heel comfort and joint preservation. Choosing:
- A block or wedge heel over a stiletto heel
- A low heel (4-7 cm) over a high heel (7+ cm)
- An enclosed shoe or boot, over an open, strappy style
- A wide, square toe box over a narrow, pointy toe box
- A back strap or heel counter over an open-backed mule
- A soft leather, suede or neoprene upper material over a patent or synthetic upper material
- Rubber sole over a hard, leather sole
- Not a tight or sloppy fit
Podiatrists often renounce the use of the high heel, however completely cutting out a wardrobe staple is no longer necessary, we just need to be smart about it! There are podiatrist-designed brands such as Frankie 4 and Bared Footwear that offer more sensible versions of heels and fashionable flats. Or you can simply retrofit the scientific support & cushioning technology into your favourite shoes by adding a slim-line Emily Braidwood footbed into all styles and heights of heels.
If you experience pain or ongoing niggles, seeking early professional advice is key.