I have never been so excited to wear flats.
That's how I'm feeling after wearing heels to work for the last two weeks.
Considering the well-known evils of high heels, this probably doesn't shock you. Because heels dramatically change the angle of your feet and shift your center of gravity, they're notoriously bad for backs, knees, calves, ankles and, of course, feet themselves. Still, heels make legs and bums look pretty darn good, which is why I enjoy wearing them on occasion. Everything in moderation, right?
Well, moderation went out the window when I accepted a challenge to trade in my usual comfortable work shoes for heels—for two weeks. I was curious: Would teetering around in stilettos at the office really be as torturuous as it seems? And how exactly do women who wear them on the regular do so with such grace? Here's how it went—and what I learned:
My feet hurt. Shocking, I know.
Feeling ambitious, I brought some extra-tall red heels to the office in the early days of this experiment. I put them on at my desk and walked, oh, I don't know, 15 steps to the fridge to stash my brown-bag lunch and my arches were already throbbing. I kept a journal during my two-week stint on stilts and about these shoes I wrote, "Not wearing these again during this experiment!"
On other days, the joints of my toes became sore from the pressure of my pointy-toed stilettos. I'd find myself closing my office door, so I could pop my shoes off and stretch my ankles and feet mid-afternoon. I became a big fan of pressing the top of my feet against the floor so that my toes curled towards my heels. This offered instant, albeit temporary, relief.
Hoxton/Tom Merton/Getty Images
I stood less.
I'm lucky to have a standing desk at work, and although I still sit too much, I try to make use of it at least once in the morning and once in the afternoon. You know what's uncomfortable in heels? Using a standing desk. I only managed to use it three of the 10 days I spent wearing heels. If sitting is the new smoking, wearing heels definitely won't help you break the habit.
And walked less.
I have big dreams about being the kind of person who, instead of rummaging in her snack drawer at 3:30 PM, gets energised for the rest of the afternoon with a quick walk around the block. There were a few nice days at the beginning of this experiment where I fully intended to leave the office and steal some sunshine, but my tired toes dissuaded me. In the final few days of my two weeks in heels, I broke the rules: I switched into flat shoes, snuck away from my desk for a walk, and strapped my heels back on after I returned. It felt so good on my aching arches that I didn't even feel the slightest bit guilty.
If you don't already, I highly recommend stashing a spare pair of comfy shoes at your desk. I always keep a pair of heels at the office for the occasional last-minute important meeting, but I also now have sneakers at the ready. I’m hoping my walk-friendly footwear will inspire more afternoon strolls.
Photograph courtesy of Sarah Klein
I got dressed feet first.
I have too many shoes for someone sharing a 650-square-foot, one bedroom apartment. But most of them are sneakers, flats or boots with barely-there heels. With more limited footwear options than usual, I found I had to think a little harder about what to wear—which isn't exactly a simple or speedy process at 8 AM. To add to the challenge, my outfit had to work with the flats I was commuting in and the heels I'd don once I got to the office. Although I found myself rushing to get out the door on more than one occasion, on the day it dawned on me to match my purple heels with my purple floral scarf, I couldn't help but feel fancy.
Photograph by Sarah Klein
I exhibited budding hypochondriac tendencies.
Once foot pain became a given, I started noting other body parts that weren't enjoying the experiment. "My lower back hurts," I wrote in my heels journal, quickly following it up with, "but sometimes that happens anyway." I jotted down "quivery thigh muscles" on another day, and, naturally, wanted to blame the heels. "Every little ache and pain makes me think this experiment is a bad idea," I wrote.
In reality, it's impossible to know if these uncomfortable sensations were due to the shoes, or from my regular Thursday-night soccer games, or my recently-more-intense weight-lifting workouts, but I definitely have more peace of mind knowing I don't have to wear heels anymore.
Photograph by Sarah Klein
I gained a new appreciation for my laid-back office.
There are undoubtedly people who feel they have to wear heels every day to look professional and put-together—and they are superheroes for putting up with the pain. There are also work environments that may even require heels. Prevention is not one of them. With sister publications like Bike and Tracks, it's not uncommon to see folks in athletic gear and sneakers here in the nextmedia offices. Even when a bit more dressiness is called for, I don't feel pressure to be totally decked out and in stilettos, as I have in other offices. That’s a work perk my feet and I are extremely thankful for.
Despite the fact that I found wearing high heels every day pretty awful, I'll never ditch stilettos altogether—they're way too much fun and can really pull together a more formal look. But I don't think I’ve ever felt so thankful for my robust sneaker collection, which I plan to bring back as the stars of my workweek.
25 May 2017