There are high heels, and there are really high heels. The obvious question: how high is too high?
In our search for the answer on how to achieve comfort without giving up our lift, we tapped the brain of Dr. Emily Splichal, podiatrist and human movement specialist, and posed the question: What is the heel height we should be shopping for?
“You shouldn’t walk in heels higher than three inches,” she says. “Anything over the three-inch mark changes the biomechanics of how you walk—your strides are shortened, you can’t walk as fast, your body weight shifts to the ball of the foot, which throws off your center of gravity and stresses the knees and lower back.”
Of course, if you’re not walking never mind, that was silly. So flats for everyone, then? Nope:
Also harmful is a too-flat shoe, she cautions, especially if someone’s foot is naturally flat (little to no arch versus a high arch): “A little heel, like a one-inch heel, puts the foot into a more stable position.”
The takeaway here is to shop for shoes with heels that range between one inch and three in height. “Avoid heels that are both too flat or too high,” she advises. “Avoid the extremes.”
I suspect there might be just a little bit of leeway at either edge of this continuum, depending on one’s individual tootsies. And there is a small but consistent market for shoes with negative heels.