I'm a podiatrist, but I don't hate high heels. At least, I don't hate wedge heels. Because, when I talk to patients in my Houston podiatry practice, a I know they won't quit wearing high heels. Instead, I try to steer them towards platforms and away from stilettos. Because platforms, especially ones with wedge heels, are better for your feet.

Why is that the case? Well, if you really want to know, keep reading! It's the topic of today's article. (Which you could have guessed from the title. But I figured a reminder couldn't hurt.)

The Benefits of Platform Heels

When podiatrists talk about dangerous high heels, stilettoes are often the problem. With a pointy heel as your only support, these shoes shift too much weight onto your forefoot. (The ball of your feet and your toes.) When that happens, excess pressure starts causing problems for your feet. But that's less of an issue when it comes to rocking those platforms.

You see, with a platform heel, you avoid the problems of shifting weight. Because, in a platform shoe, your body weight is evenly distributed across your foot. As a result, you can avoid some of the awful side effects of high heels. These include foot pain, bunions, neuromas and hammertoes, to name a few.

Then, there's another benefit of the wider-soled platforms. Thanks to a broader base, it's easier to balance when you rock your platforms. Which means you're less likely to trip and fall. Or sustain an injury like a sprained or broken ankle.

The Danger of Platform Wedges

Read my top tips before wearing platform wedges like these!

Now that I've celebrated platform heels, I have to note one exception. I'm talking about platform wedges. You see, this kind of shoe cancels out most of the benefits of platforms.

Just like a stiletto, platform wedges can throw off your balance. And, when they do so, you're wobbling from two-to-three inches off the ground. In my opinion, that's asking for disaster with one simple misstep.

Still, I know this dangerous shoe style is popular. And I'm not one to fight against the inevitable. With that in mind, I'm buckling to keep you safe. And sharing my top 5 tips for wearing wedge platforms without falling and killing yourself. With a shoutout to the good folks over at Bustle, who inspired this post. Read with care, then rock on in wedges while staying safe!

5 Safer Ways to Wear Wedge Heels

1. Keep it Low.

When you wear a platform wedge, you don't need a 4-inch lift. With that height, any slip could spell disaster! Instead, shoot for a two to two-and-a-half inch rise. I’d say this is a forever rule, but that might be wishful thinking. So at least watch the platform height until you’ve mastered the art of wedge-walking.

2. Size and padding matter.

Fit is key in all shoes, but especially in a platform wedges. Because your foot's contorted in these shoes, even an inch of extra or too little room is dangerous. How can you tell if the fit isn't right? If your toes are hanging off the edge of the shoe or don’t even reach the end, pick another size or pair. And then consider the shoe bed. I'd love to see you use a cushion insert for the ball of your foot. That's because, in platform wedges and stilettos, it bears the brunt of body weight pressure. So increasing padding with this shoe design is also a great idea.

3. Watch how you walk.

Platform shoes are heavy and bulky. That's why women in platform wedges tend to slam their foot down all at once. The problem gets worse because your heel and toe are closer than normal in a wedge. But walking this way isn't just awkward. It puts too much force on your foot! And that could mean a serious ankle or foot injury. Want to avoid problems? Change your gait! When you walk in wedges, push those hips forward. Then, engage your core to continue stepping in the safer heel-toe stride.

4. Remember: These Babies Need Backs. Woman rubbing feet from pain in high heels

Back straps, that is. When you wear backless wedges, or any backless shoes, your toes curl to keep the shoes from slipping. In the short term, that could leave you with foot cramps and pain. But it also further throws off your balance. Which, once again, increases your risk of falling or taking painful missteps. To avoid this issue, look for wedges with a full back or back strap. That will help keep your toes relaxed and out of the balance equation.

5. Get Scuffing.

Smooth soled shoes are apt to make you slip. Especially in wedge platforms, where your balance is already an issue. To fight the slide, do a little work before your first wearing. First, rub sandpaper on the bottom of your shoes to gain traction through distressing. Then, if you feel bad about wrecking new shoes, consider this. Women pay hundreds of dollars for distressed Golden Goose sneakers. When you use this sandpaper hack, you get the same effect. For a good reason, and at a fraction of the cost!


Avoiding High Heel Pain with the Houston Podiatrist

I really hope my wedge heel hacks can help you avoid foot pain. But maybe you're reading this post too late in your heel-loving life. Or another type of shoe already left you in pain. Don't worry: I'm here to help. And never to judge.

All I ask is this. If your shoes have already left you in pain, don't stay home and hope to heal on your own. Instead, come see me right away! I can help you find pain relief. And I'll do it without telling you to dump your favorite foot gear!


Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.