The Impact That Heels Can Have On Your Feet

The Impact That Heels Can Have On Your Feet

The high heel is a style of shoe that has been around for centuries, but it hasn’t always been known for the femininity it encompasses today. 

The History of Heels

Originally, heels were found on the feet of male Persian soldiers, then inspiring European aristocrats and performers including ballet dancers. Eventually, around the mid 16th century, the silhouette became a symbol of wealth and high class for women. Particularly in Venice, the style of shoe trended among upper class women to showcase their status, as the higher the heel meant more fabric was required to clothe the lady. Some of the high heels/ platforms reached around 20 inches! 

In the late 17th century, the style was popularised by King Louis XIV, this time featuring a bold, red sole similar to the trademarked Louboutin style. Afterwards, heels were commonly worn by royals all across Europe.

As the 20th century came about, heels began to take many shapes and sizes and evolved through fashion trends. There were also significant factors that encouraged the use of high heels including big productions such as The Wizard of Oz, with Dorothy’s signature red slippers. The use of wooden heels started declining after the Second World War ended as more advanced technology encouraged the incorporation of metal within high heels. Since, heels have developed with trends coming and going and have become a staple in women’s wardrobes. 

Heels and The Male Gaze

Amongst the popularisation of the silhouette of course came views and societal expectations that burden the style of shoe even today. Designed by men, the intention of creating high heels for women tended to be for various ill reasons, as they realised the style made women’s feet appear smaller, their body appear more sexual, and they limited their movement, ensuring women walk slower. 

When questioned about the practicality and attractiveness of women in heels, French designer, Christian Louboutin, seemed unphased when stating “What is the point of wanting to run?” and said “I am all for the pace getting slower, and high heels are very good for that.”. Demonstrating the male gaze, Louboutin was insinuating that women have no need to move fast in a world run by men and that a man should simply have the luxury of looking at her longer. In the world of today it may sound surprising that a man would openly imply such notions, but what might come as an even bigger surprise is that he stated this only ten years ago, in 2013. 

Despite the fact that women’s heels were originally designed by men to slow her down and look more appealing in their eyes, there is a sort of power in the style of shoe. A symbol of femininity, the shoe can mean many things for different women around the world whilst still connecting them together. At Sargasso & Grey, we look at the empowering nature of heels, and what looks like a restrictive item that dresses the body (feet) is merely a representation of the struggles that confine (and have confined for centuries) women within society. Similar to a battle wound, we view heels as a display of strength and enjoy wearing them from a new perspective that opposes the original gaze from male counterparts.

wide fit open toe sandal for wedding

The Effects of Heeled Shoes on Your Foot Health

Of course, you can see just by looking at a pair of heels that they are not natural for the shape of human feet. Contrary to that of a Barbie doll, feet are not consistently and perfectly elevated, and are not meant to be shaped this way for functional purposes. Foot health can be impacted by wearing the style of shoe, especially when worn often and for long periods of time, but particularly when the heels are not made with comfortability or practicality in mind. 

foot pain caused from high heels

Unfortunately, it is more common to find an uncomfortable pair of heels than a comfortable pair and this has seemed to be the way since heels were introduced, but in recent times (especially with the increase in female designers) comfortable heeled shoes are becoming more accessible. 

What does it take for heels to be more comfortable?

Of course, we are not saying you should stop wearing heels altogether as there are solutions that make style of shoe more wearable, and we all know of course that heels will always look fabulous (and make you feel it too!). Unlike instances in the past, heels can be found today in many shapes and sizes. Similarly, they can also be more comfortable with more resources available, as well as information, that can advise on the suitability of heels for your feet. 

Foot Pressure

the effects of wearing heels and the pressure placed on your feet

One of the most important ways to protect your feet is to limit the pressure placed on them. The added pressure from high heels mostly affects the toes and balls of the feet as the heels are elevated, and so weight is concentrated towards the front of the feet. This can have a great impact on ligaments and bones in your feet, and in some cases other areas of the body. 

Heels that are shorter in height are better when preserving foot health as there is less elevation and therefore less pressure placed on your feet. If you like heels that give the illusion of great height or longer legs, there are still tall shoe options that don't lift your arch so high. Platforms are great because they offer lots of height in both the front and heel of the foot, so there isn't actually as much pressure on your feet from pushing you weight forward to the front of the foot. 

Block heels are smarter and more practical heeled options. A thicker heel means that your weight is more evenly distributed over a larger surface area, and therefore less pressure is placed directly onto one tiny point of the heel. Overall this will make a pair of heels more stable and supportive and will cause less pain that is a result of pressure. 

Furthermore, the materials used to create a pair of shoes is extremely important to preserve good foot health and avoid sore feet. Natural materials like leather and suede are much better for your feet because they are more breathable than synthetic. Shoes that aren’t breathable are more likely to add strain to your feet, as well as increase pressure from swelling. 

Our Top Wide-Fit Heels For Minimal Pressure

Olivia Wide Fit Court Shoe

wide fit block heel pumps in black suede

A versatile court shoe that encompasses true elegance. Olivia is a stylish pump that features a 4cm accent block heel designed to assist balance and offer support. The upper of the shoe fully covers the toe joint, eliminating the risk of having the edge of the shoe cut into sensitive areas around the toe joint. Hence, it makes our list of top shoes to wear to reduce pressure on your feet.

Lisa Wide Fit Court Shoe

wide fit comfortable court heels in cognac leather

Lisa is a fabulous style for an array of smart occasions. Sufficiently padded with memory foam that is cleverly incorporated into the leather insoles, this court style offers lots of cushioning and support. The 6cm heel is eye-catching and graceful whilst avoiding elevation that would cause pain. With a medium thickness, you can ensure that you'll feel stable and stylish in this shoe.

Georgie Wide Fit Heeled Sandal

wide fit pink occasion sandal with comfortable block heel

A neutral shoe that works across all seasons, Georgie is a staple for your wardrobe all year round. Made from butter-soft leather, this open style is extra comfortable as well as breathable, which helps reduce swelling and inflammation. With added sparkle material on the toe for some extra pizzazz, this shoe is not just your ordinary staple shoe!

Jazz Wide Fit Mule

wide fit kitten heel mules in black sparkle leather

Easy and convenient, mules are the ideal slip-on shoe as they are suitable for many occasions. Jazz is extra dressy with it's fabulous sparkle material, making the shoe amazing for parties and events. Extra-wide (EEE), there is plenty of room in the toe box for your feet to breathe, and the leather lining features a smooth and soothe panel that adds a softness against your skin, lessening irritation. Only 3cm tall, you can rest assured that there is minimal pressure on your feet and maximum chicness!

Tula Wide Fit Court Shoe

stylish two tone heeled court shoes in a wide width

A classic silhouette, Tula is a lovely pointed court shoe that exudes an air of elegance. Enhancing the illusion of longer legs without adding extreme heights and pressure to your feet, this style features a practical 4cm heel. Super stylish, the two-tone design is trendy yet timeless, and will serve for years to come!

Star Wide Fit Platform Sandal

wide fit gold leather platform sandals

If you are after height, then our Star platforms are the perfect option. Whilst they appear like a significantly tall shoe, and offer an extra 10cm onto your height, the pressure placed on your feet isn't too high. So, your arches won't feel strained or uncomfortably elevated because of the smart 2cm platform!

So, you can rest easy knowing that there are ways to both look the part and feel comfortable. Instead of ditching heels altogether, we have some great 'killer' alternatives that will not put heaps of pressure on your feet, and will instead support you comfortably. 

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