“Swelling of your feet and ankles typically occurs at the end of the day due to the increased pressure and stress of fluid retention in the veins of your feet, as they work against the cumulative effects of gravity to push blood back up to your heart,” says Dr. Cunha. That said, you'd be wise to shoe for shoes—whether they’re sneakers, flats, heels, platforms, or any style in between—when your feet are the most swollen and in their worst shape. “If you purchase a pair of shoes that are comfortable at the end of the day, they are more likely to be a comfortable fit throughout the day,” he says.
Now, if you’re looking down at your feet and thinking to yourself that swelling doesn’t affect you, think again. “Everyone experiences swelling of their feet and ankles at the end of the day to some extent,” Dr. Cunha says. “Some people, especially people who are diabetic, experience abnormal swelling of their feet and ankles due to venous insufficiency.”
Many people aren’t hyper aware of swelling in their feet thanks to shoe styles that largely compress them.
“Certain shoes that are snug around the feet and ankles such as sneakers or boots, may help decrease swelling as they compress fluid out of the veins of your feet and into the veins of your legs on its way back to the heart,” says Dr. Cunha. “Heels, on the other hand, may lead to increased fluid retention especially on the top of the feet as they shift your center of gravity forward which can diminish the pumping mechanism of your calf muscles to push fluid back up to your heart.” (This is also why there is the age-old trick of never taking your heels off until you’re 100 percent done with the night/event/whatever—even if it seems like doing so would momentarily alleviate soreness—because, once you do, the swelling will spread and it will be even more difficult to wedge your feet back into your shoes.)
From now on, save shoe shopping for the end of the day. Your feet will thank you.
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