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Surviving Office High Heels 101

Surviving Office High Heels 101

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

Office Heels Pain Workplace

“49% of women wear high heels, even though the majority of heel wearers (71%) complain these shoes hurt their feet.” American Podiatric Medical

Wearing high heels in the workplace may be your fashion style of choice, but it may also be a cause of foot pain. Is the added height, tall posture, and altered gait worth the pain? Is there anything you can do to both enjoy heels and avoid pain? This blog may serve as a survival guide for wearing heels in the workplace.

The physics of high heels

High heels transform the body’s stance and one’s movement due the physics of your body’s center of gravity shifting. Your walk changes as your body tries to keep itself balanced. The engineers at Illumin explain, “When standing in high-heeled shoes, posture changes so that the back is arched, the pelvis and chest are thrust forward, the buttocks stick out, and the calf muscles tighten. The shoe slant causes some muscles of the leg to remain flexed while the added height to the leg gives an illusion of longer legs, both of which are important contributions to the classic heeled shoe stance.

The hip swaying, swift bouncy strides, and prominent stance are all in reaction to a shift in centers of gravity or pressure. The illusion of muscular legs, on the other hand, is a result of positioning of the heel of the foot.”

Avoid pain when wearing high heels
Now that you have a better idea about how heels affect your body, here are some tips to avoid pain at work while wearing heels at the office.

  • Use an adjustable footrest at your desk
    It’s important to make sure your keyboard surface height, chair height, and monitor height are always correct. Set up your workstation as if you are wearing heels and use an adjustable footrest for when you wear flats. This way, you always have a comfortable option available to you.
  • Stretch your feet on your breaks
    Consider doing foot stretches and exercises while at your desk. Watch Solutions Northwest’s video series for ideas on foot exercises you can do while sitting at your desk. 
  • Purchase Hybrid Heels
    Be on the lookout for heels which mimic jogging/basketball shoes with pouches of gas for comfort. These are sometimes referred to as comfort heels. This built in comfort works as a stylish alternative to using inserts.

In Conclusion

It’s important to feel confident and comfortable in the workplace, while still being aware of work injury risks. If you are reading this ergonomics blog, you’ve already taken the first step into a healthy and happy work place, which is to always remain proactive about your workplace health.

As always, be sure to share these tips with your co-workers or employees and for more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit or Contact Us for more detailed information.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.


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Tips to survive wearing high heels at work.

Tips to survive wearing high heels at work.

Survive wearing heels at work.

72% of women wear high-heeled shoes and 39% wear high-heeled shoes on a daily basis. American Podiatric Medical

 By Celeste McLaughlin, BA, CEOE, CDMS, CPDM

High heels are “Sitting Shoes”
Don’t worry, this is not an ergonomics lecture on the risks of wearing high heels. We are not even going to tell you to stop wearing them. Instead, let’s think of them in a different way. High heels are sitting shoes.

Heel height and comfort in the work place
If you are going to be doing a lot of walking or standing, a 1″ heel is about as high as most doctors will recommend. If you are planning on wearing heels higher than 1″, it’s a good idea to have an extra pair of lower heeled shoes with you. Having a pair of low heeled shoes in your desk drawer or in a shoe box under your desk will work.

Ergonomics tips for your work station set up
It’s important to make sure your keyboard surface height, chair height, and monitor height are always correct.

If you wear different heel heights on different days or sometimes don’t wear heels at all, a quick way to adjust your workstation is to set the workstation up for when you are wearing heels and use a footrest for when you wear flats. That way your legs won’t dangle when you are wearing flats.

Tips for height adjustable desk work
If you use a height adjustable desk it’s recommended to wear a 1″ or lower heeled pair of shoes with a blockier heel while using the desk standing. Stillettos are harder on your body and will also negatively affect your ability to balance. It is an option to wear heels while sitting at your desk and then switch to a lower heeled pair of shoes when standing at your desk.

We here at Solutions Northwest hope these ergonomics tips help you work in comfort. For more, subscribe to our newsletter or contact one of our experts today!

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