As heels get higher and higher, shoe shoppers are left deciding between 4 inches or 5 inches for their next pair. But is there room for comfort in the world of sky-high stilettos?
Not if shoppers are looking to shoe insoles to relieve their aching feet. Recent tests by ShopSmart, the shopping magazine published by Consumer Reports, reveal that shoe insoles may not be worth the money.
“The shoe trend right now seems to be the higher the better, but not everyone wants to teeter on 5-inch platforms every day,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor in chief of ShopSmart. “Our tests found that shoe insoles make little difference when it comes to comfort. But there are things women can do to avoid killing their feet and causing permanent damage.”
Almost 90 percent of women wear painful footwear at least some of the time, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. ShopSmart’s advice: Just skip the ridiculously high shoes and wear flats sometimes.
Step by step:
ShopSmart enlisted 14 female staffers to don a pair of their high heels to see whether some popular insoles would make the shoes more comfortable. Each staffer wore her shoes at work for six or seven hours and used fresh samples of each insole for two to three days. They walked around the office twice a day, on a course of about a third of a mile, indoors and outdoors on a driveway.
Panelists rated the insoles for cushioning, comfort, stability and how easy they were to put in and take out of shoes. The verdict: None of the products impressed.
The fact is, high heels aren’t comfortable, and a little insole probably won’t make a big difference. Here’s the skinny on the sole savers:
— Fab Feet 3/4 Insole and Foot Petals Killer Kushionz provided some cushioning, making the shoes more comfy than they were without the insoles. They also made the shoes feel more stable.
— The Foot Petals insoles fasten to shoes with super-sticky adhesive, so it won’t be easy to take them out and move them from shoe to shoe. Some tore the shoe lining when panelists tried to remove them.
— Dr. Scholl’s For Her High Heel Insoles made no noticeable difference, although some panelists said they provided some cushioning and arch support.
— Insolia High Heel Inserts were the biggest disappointment. Testers said these insoles didn’t provide any more comfort than their shoes alone and actually made the shoes less comfortable and stable than the other insoles.
Five foot shockers (and what to do)
Abused feet can start looking real ugly, real fast. Mind ShopSmart’s list of risky common missteps and simple fixes to avoid pain and deformation down the road:
1. Teetering on high heels. Steep stilettos can lead to hammertoes, bunions, blisters, stress fractures and pain in the balls of the feet because weight is distrusted abnormally.
What to do: Go for shorter heels. Try 3 inches, max, instead of 4 or 5.
2. Wearing shoes that are too tight. Many women still buy the same shoe size even though their feet have grown, leading to ingrown toenails, corns, calluses, blisters and cramps. What to do: Get measured. The ligaments in the feet stretch over time, affecting length and width.
3. Wearing flip-flops often. The comfy summer staple can widen your feet and cause stubbed toes, sprained ankles, and dry, cracked heels. What to do. Wear sandals with heel straps for better protection and support and to reduce the risk of cracked heels.
4. Standing for hours at a time. Standing for long periods causes ankles to swell. What to do. Wear supportive, comfy shoes for long standing sessions.
5. Going barefoot. Having no protection can cause cuts and even a tetanus infection or hepatitis. What to do. Walk barefoot at home, but cover up outdoors.
Filed Under: Consumer Reports