If you're one of the millions of women who wear high heels you could be causing permanent damage to your feet and legs, but instead of finding new ways to break in your heels, there's a way to find the right heel.
For Pam Stone, "pain at the pumps" isn't just another saying for high gas prices
“Back in the day, I wore the high heels and that did a job on my feet so I have had surgeries,” said Stone.
After years of standing on her feet all day, working as a fashion retailer, Stone has put her foot down on wearing stinging stilettos.
“I have to say comfort comes first,” said Stone, “It was more what I did to my feet after wearing them, the toe things, the corn pads, the pads in the heel, the pads in the shoe. I was breaking in my foot and my foot's not going to change.”
From 16th century corsets to modern-day plastic surgery, it seems women have always abided by the mantra that "beauty is painful", but it doesn't have to be when it comes to footwear says Jill Biege at Shoooz in Winter Park.
Biege says the first thing people say when they walk in the door of her shoe store is, “I need help. My foot hurts.”
“We have a lot of customers in their 20s and 30s that are already having foot problems,” said Biege
Biege says the biggest mistake women make is thinking the pain is a normal part of breaking in a shoe, but the secret is finding the "right" shoe.
“it's important to realize shoes are really inconsistent,” said Biege.
“An 8 and a half is not always an eight and a half, so it’s important fit the shoe to the foot and kind of forget about the size,” said Biege.
Biege says heels made of soft-leather materials are the most gentle on your foot.
They're also more expensive, but Dr. Tara Fussell, a podiatrist at Orlando Foot and Ankle Clinic says you either pay now or pay a painful price later.
“Most women start to complain about hammer toes about 40's to 50's. They can attribute their foot changes and the deformities in their foot from when they were younger and wearing the tight pumps,” said Fussell.
Researchers have also found that the strain of ill-fitting high heels can damage tendons in the legs and shorten the calf muscles by as much as 13-percent, which puts more strain on your knees.
“I tell patients minimize the time you're going to wear them. If you're going go to the theme park, the mall or to run errands, maybe not the time to wear those high heel tighter shoes,” said Fussell.
She also advises women to do their shoe-shopping toward the end of the day.
“Most people's feet swell throughout the day and can go up a half to a full size with that swelling," Fussell said.
When all else fails, Fussell says the best way to cushion the soles or prevent blisters is lining your heels with lamb's wool, which you can find at most shoe or craft stores.