According to the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, women are nine times more likely than men to develop a foot problem due to ill-fitting shoes, and 90% of women say they wear shoes in too small of a size. As a result, 90% of females experience foot deformities because of wearing shoes that are too tight to properly accommodate the length, width, and natural shape of their feet.

Although high heels, or pumps, are a popular staple in many women’s wardrobes as a way to add style, glamour, and even height, high-heeled shoes can lead to a slew of foot, knee, and back problems, such as shortened calf muscles and toe deformities. They can also cause women to alter the way they walk, making them imbalanced and more susceptible to sprained ankles and injuries from falls. Despite the discomforts most women experience while wearing high heels, they continue to wear them, day after day, which compounds the problems that result from high heels.

To minimize the problems stemming from high heels, women can observe the following suggestions: keep the maximum heel height to two inches or under; make sure the shoe fits correctly in all foot areas, such as the heel and toe box; vary heel heights and alternate high heels with flats or low-heeled alternatives; and choose designs of high-heeled shoes made for walking. Do not wear high heels for a time period of more than three hours.

To avoid foot problems, women should wear shoes that offer cushion and support while walking. It is best to choose footwear with laces for additional support and a better fit, rather than slip-on styles. Shoes should have a heel counter that is padded inside with a rigid outside; the heel should be wider instead of narrow and pointy and have a maximum height of 3/4s of an inch. The sole should be rubber or composition for substantial support and grip.

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