5.31.2009

Happy Feet

As you can tell, I love wearing high heels, and I wear them quite frequently. They just make my work outfits look a lot sharper. I am generally pretty good about buying shoes that I can walk comfortably in, but let's face it, heels stop becoming comfortable after a few hours of constant walking or standing. The balls of my feet would eventually hurt from having to bear my entire body weight, and the problem is especially pronounced with the cheaper shoes (at least good leather soles feel a bit more pliable and absorb some of the shock). I generally try to make my feet last longer through good posture, putting more weight on my heels as I walk, and so forth, but I definitely need a little bit of help. As much as I like fashion, I am not stupid enough to sacrafice podiatric health for it. Potential medical costs clearly outweigh the stylistic benefits.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to try a couple of things in pursuit of comfort. After spending a better part of the day walking around in my Maison Martin Margiela wedges (the lucite ones), my feet were quite unhappy. I decided to stop by a Walgreens to get a pair of $5 private label gel pads that are made specifically for the balls of the feet. While they provided some cushioning, they failed to do enough.

The next time I went to the store, I came across some Dr. Scholl's insoles that claim to take the weight off the balls of the feet. The insoles are a bit pricey ($8-10 a pair), but I thought I'd give them a shot. I figured that padding the balls of the feet is merely a short term remedy--the real solution is to shift and spread the weight. To my surprise, the insoles worked quite well...to an extent. For heels that are of medium height (2-3 inches), I could really feel the extra cushioning at the arches, which redistribute the pressure over a larger surface area and off the balls of the foot. However, for the 4-inch heels, they don't seem to do much good at all, at least on their own. When I inserted a ball of the foot pad underneath the weight-shifting insole, I instantly felt the difference. The balls of the feet became sufficiently padded, and the arch support portion is lifted up such that it finally does some work, though not quite as well as they performed on the lower heels.

I still can't say that I swear by my insoles, but they do make a discernable difference in terms of comfort. Foam insoles have been fairly useless for me, so this is definitely a step up. Because the insoles aren't cheap, I just bought a few pairs and rotated them amongst the shoes I wear. I dare say the rotation method works out quite well. Three pairs of insoles are plenty to keep the fleet of footwear ready to roll at all times.

I have heard of the roll-on sticks (look kinda like deodorant) that can be applied to the back of the foot to reduce friction, but I have not tried it yet. Those should be good for the summer sandal season.

Know of any good and affordable footwear-related products out there? Comment away.

6 comments:

Kristin said...

I'm inspired to try these!! I haven't been rocking the heels as much as I used to before I had the dude.

hollarback said...

Be very careful with those 4 inch heels unless they are platforms. You are young now and will bounce back, but you are likely to wind up with severe foot and calve problems when you are in your 40s-50s. Damage to your feet and tendons is cumulative, like skin cancer damage. It can't really be fully undone either.

Try to wear mostly 2-2.5 inch heels more often and look for wedges. Insoles aren't reducing the strain, they are just adding padding. 4" heels are not a good idea.

Sales Rack Raider said...

Hollarback--that is definitely true and something to be aware of. The 4-inch heels are fun once in a while, but they're definitely not something I wear on a regular basis (nor would I recommend it).

continuum said...

A big deal was made somewhere about stuff even like ski boots have cheap flat insoles, and they *expect* you to buy nicer insoles from Superfeet or whoever for proper fit.

So, umm, check Zappos or something... I'm sure they have something? There's probably a ton of this stuff searchable on google.

(and I'm sure whatever it cost has to be less than the $600 I want to spend on custom ski boots...)

Sales Rack Raider said...

I must be lucky then--my ski boots were the perfect fit when I bought them. But then again I don't go skiing quite as often as you do, so they haven't flattend out...yet. $600 is an insane amount for custom ski boots.

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