How you walk is as important as the shoes you wear.
• Avoid wearing high heels for too long
“Your feet are made to walk on a relatively flat surface. Wearing high heels shifts the weight of the body to the forefoot (the front of the foot). When you wear three-inch heels, you pitch 70 per cent of your weight on the forefoot, compared to 20 per cent in one-inch heels,” says Timothy Maiden, senior podiatrist from The Foot Practice. “This leads to a variety of foot problems like bunions.”
So don’t spend the whole day in high heels. “You should also keep the heel height to no more than an inch, and make sure that the heel base is broad enough to match your foot size, especially the width of your forefoot,” adds Matt Herd, director and podiatrist from My Foot Dr. “Strappy heels are better than strapless ones, as they hold your feet in place to prevent slipping.”
• Maintain an upright posture
This is what happens when you walk in a pair of heels: “Your centre of gravity shifts forward – your pelvis tilts forward and you have to hold your shoulders back so that you
won’t fall face first. In the long run, it can cause knee and lower-back pain,” points out Timothy. So try to keep a straight back as much as possible. This also applies if you tend to slouch when you walk, stand or sit.
• Lean forward when you run
“As your body moves forward, land with your foot underneath it, not in front of it. Doing the latter creates a braking force and pushes you backwards. You want to go forward when you’re running instead of stopping yourself from doing so,” says Matt. “Do not slouch while running – imagine a string is pulling you up from the top of your head and your body is a rigid lever.”
• Land on your feet correctly
Matt says you should land on the balls of your feet and let your heels kiss the ground throughout your run. “If you stay on the balls of your feet the entire time you’re running, this will overload your Achilles heel and injure it,” he warns.
• Distribute your weight evenly
Flat on the ground – that’s the natural position of your foot, where the heel, midfoot and forefoot bear an equal load of your body weight. But when you wear the wrong type of shoes or lean heavily on one side, the load proportion changes.
Distributing your weight unevenly over time may cause corns and calluses to form, says Matt. It may even lead to back pain, while the extra pressure can affect your knees, lower back and neck. “If one joint in the body does not bend, the other joints above and below it will have to bend more. This increases the loading on the soft tissues supporting that joint and causes them to fail. Injuries will then occur,” explains Matt.