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How to Relieve Foot Pain After a Night of High Heels

The holidays are upon us and that means your iCal is quickly filling up with fetes. What else it means: You’ll likely be spending a lot more time teetering in high heels, which can leave your hooves throbbing nearly as much as your eggnog-soaked brain the next day. For fashion’s sake, we’re not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t wear (you haven’t been doing those squats for nothing!), but we’ll happily show you how to lessen the foot pain while at the party and how to give your tootsies some pain relief the morning after.

Partying in Heels: Head for Softer Ground

“If you have a choice between standing on a rug or standing on a wood floor, go for the softer surface,” says Megan Leahy, a podiatrist at the Illinois Bone & Joint institute in Chicago. When wearing heels, you put a lot of pressure on the balls of your feet. A hard floor applies even more pressure to that area from the bottom. “Standing on a rug is like having a cushion in your shoe,” says Leahy. (Avoid any fashion hazards by reading these 7 Health Dangers Hiding in Your Closet.)

Slip in Some Insoles
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The gels sold at drugstores will totally do the trick. Just be sure to replace them every few wears, since they don’t hold up long-term. “This provides more shock absorption and distributes your weight across the ball of your feet rather than in a toe or two,” Leahy says. A good rule of thumb when shopping for shoes: “If they’re too tight to accommodate something like a gel insert then they’re probably too small for your feet anyway,” she adds.

Stick to Wool Stockings
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In general, stockings beat bare feet since they create a layer of protection between fungus that may be brewing in your Bottega’s and your skin. Wool trumps stockings made of synthetic materials such as nylon or lycra because it’s better at wicking moisture away from your feet. Keeping your soles dry helps prevent the growth of fungus and bacteria while also reducing your risk of calluses and blisters that can develop when your skin rubs against the shoe.

The Next Day: Go For a Soak
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Fill your tub with a few inches of warm water, sprinkle in some Epsom salt, and soak your feet for about 20 minutes (just enough time to catch up on the party’s hashtag feed!) “Magnesium in the salt reduces inflammation and cramping,” Leahy says.

Stretch It Out
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“High heels put your calf muscle and Achilles tendon in an abnormally shortened position, which can create tightness and pain,” Leahy says. Facing a wall, place one foot in front of the other with both feet flat on the floor. Bend your front knee and keep your back knee straight. Hold for 90 seconds. Switch legs. Repeat three times throughout the day to continue relieving the pressure. (And if you're looking for some stretches, read Too Sore to Exercise? The Active Recovery Workout.)

Give Yourself Some Props
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While recovering on the couch, place a few pillows underneath your feet. “It helps your venous system return blood from your lower body back to your heart and bring down some swelling,” Leahy says.

Additional Pain Measures
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If your feet are noticeably inflamed (i.e. red and throbbing) ice can constrict the blood vessels and bring down some swelling. An NSAID like ibuprofen can also help with inflammation. Got blisters? Treat them with an antibacterial ointment (such as Neosporin) and cover them with a Band-Aid to prevent an infection. “Your feet are more susceptible to infection than a lot of other parts of your body because they’re further away from your heart and they’re often exposed to fungi and bacteria that thrive in the warm and moist environment of your shoes,” Leahy says. Lastly, if you’re limping or unable to walk normally the next day (or any day after that), make an appointment with a podiatrist to get your hooves checked out. You could have a moresserious issue such as tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, or even a stress fracture. (Plus, check out 6 Imbalances That Cause Pain—and How to Fix Them.

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