Have high heels become a Covid-19 casualty?

Since the pandemic hit, most of us have banished our high heels to the back of our wardrobe. Our feet are thanking us, so what are we likely to wear out now?

If your go-to shoe choices have lately steered towards fluffy slippers, bare feet or runners, returning to those uncomfortable stilettos or other high heels you used to love might seem a step too far.

But when we eventually head back to the office – not to mention our social lives – will our old shoe preferences return with us?

A shift to more casual shoes

Sydney personal stylist Hayley Cooper says heels are definitely not a priority in most people’s wardrobes right now.

“But I think before this (latest lockdown) … I did notice that it was more of a comfort shift anyway,” Hayley says.

“So it was more low block heels.

“There was a lot of heeled boots, but low-heeled – nothing like stilettos or anything like that.”

Expert footwear style predictions

Hayley says fashion labels have recently embraced more comfortable options, which means you can still look stylish without the agony.

She predicts low block heels with straps will be popular this summer, as will loafers and flatform shoes.

“It’s kind of like you’re wearing flat shoes but it’s higher, and your foot is still at a flat position.”

Amsterdam-style clogs are also en route, as well as a more fashionable (fingers crossed) offering from Crocs.

Has the pandemic been a blessing for our feet?

A survey carried out last year by the Australian Podiatry Association found one in three people who had changed their footwear to less supportive shoes, or none at all, during the pandemic had experienced increased foot pain.

However, podiatrist Caitlin Jeffries says the news is all positive for those who have ditched their towering heels during Covid-19.

“I think you could undeniably say for that group of people their feet have hugely improved,” Caitlin says.

In her clinic, women who previously came in with severe corns and calluses have seen those problems disappear.

“It’s commonly footwear related.”

Why high heels are bad for you

Certainly for people who are wearing heels day in, day out, there’s no two ways about it – heels certainly do damage the feet,” says Caitlin.

“Any shoe that has an elevation or a heel on it causes the weight of the body to shift forward, right on to the ball of the foot.

“So the higher the heel, the more weight and pressure that gets shifted forward.”

This can lead to excess pressure on your knees, hips and back, which are all working overtime to prevent you toppling over.

Wearing heels regularly can damage the soft tissue in areas such as the Achilles tendon and calf muscles, causing them to shorten, Caitlin says.

So what shoes should I wear?

“I’m a big believer in not everyone’s going to wear sensible shoes all the time – we are human,” Caitlin says.

However, she recommends a wedged heel “because you’re not just relying on the ball of the foot and that small part of the heel contacting the ground”.

Flatforms also get her tick of approval, as do heels with a wider, more rounded toe to reduce excessive pressure.

Meanwhile, heels with straps across the ankle and forefoot will not only help your shoes stay on, but stop the smaller muscles from having to work quite as hard, she says.

Written by Larissa Ham.