As a Canadian Certified Pedorthist, part of my job includes footwear education for my patients. Dress footwear options can be a hot topic, particularly high heels. As a woman who loves shoes, I wear heels, but I do so in moderation with certain considerations for my own personal mechanics, and foot type.

Footwear advice and education is tailored to each particular patient. For dress shoes I always help each patient figure out how much time will be spent in their high heels, and most importantly, understand their foot shape and limitations.

When picking your heels, there are three key factors to look for. The first thing to look for is the heel to ball differential. This is the difference in height between the heel and the ball of your foot. The greater this difference, the greater force you’re putting through the ball of your foot, increasing your risk of injury and discomfort.

Additionally what shape is your heel? Does it provide proper balance and stability for you? One of the reasons heels with a platform forefoot incorporated toe spring have become popular is because they give a fashionable high heel look, while providing cushioning at the ball of your foot.

Next, check to make sure the shoe shape and fit matches the shape of your foot. For instance, if you have a square forefoot, then you require a square toe box. If you have an elongated second toe, you may need more generous length here. If you have a triangle foot, where the heel is narrow and the forefoot is wide, you’ll require some kind of strap to keep your heel in the shoe.

Lastly, consider if the shoe needs to accommodate any bunions, hammertoes or bony prominences you may have. If so, look for shoes that have stretchy panels or straps, and avoid shoes with seaming or stitching across those tender areas.

High heeled shoes have come a long way and there are many options that have these features. If you wear orthotics, some brands of high heels do have enough space to add orthotics for additional comfort and support. Personally, when I wear heels for an extended time, I always insert my orthotics to give my feet the extra support and comfort I need.

Every foot structure has different requirements, and your foot type or condition will dictate what shoes and styles are best for you. Ask your local Canadian Certified Pedorthist for shoe shopping tips specific to your feet.