Heels do us all kinds of favors: They make our legs look long and slim; give us a confidence boost; and have the magical ability to transform a casual look to some serious night-out material. But, our favorite pumps also come with a rap sheet that includes blisters, a not-so-endearing tumble down the stairs, and the general feeling that beauty is, indeed, pain.
As Marilyn Monroe once said, “I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.” We can’t help but agree. After all, heels are great at dressing up an outfit. In addition, they help elongate your legs, making it possible for everyone to feel like a supermodel for a night. The 1950s “blonde bombshell” actress is famous for her sexy style, so it’s no wonder fashionable pairs of heels were a staple in her closet. However, being a fashion icon also means that Marilyn was quite familiar with just how uncomfortable a trendy pair of heels can be. Luckily, here at FootFitter we have the fix if you’re trying to figure out how to make heels more comfortable.
It's safe to say that wearing heels isn't always a walk in the park. Sore ankles and achy arches are anything but ideal. Yet, women still do it on a daily basis. I mean, I can't blame all the heel-wearing ladies out there, because they do look fabulous and heels can totally take an outfit to the next level. However, it does suck to be in excruciating pain before you've even made it to work or an event.
I was intrigued by the idea of being able to wear heels again. I really put it to the test, by wearing heels into the city. Lot's of walking, and I survived. Unfortunately, I did not bring the small purse vial of spray, and was unable to refresh the spray after a few hours. I wore those boots for 8 hours. I felt the cooling/numbing effect of the spray. I have bunions and osteoarthritis. I threw away the boots I was wearing that day, because, let's face it, heels are not healthy for anyone, at any time. I do, however, plan to use this product to survive (even enjoy) my son's impending wedding.
Women and high heels have long been in a love-hate relationship—and for good reason. Though stilettos elongate your legs and accentuate your shapely calves, they’re also killer on the feet. But what if an evening spent in heels didn’t have to end in swelling and blisters? We asked four podiatrists to share their top tips for choosing better-for-you shoes.
No matter how the shoe is designed, fit is always the best way to achieve comfort. When trying on shoes, wear them around the store for a short walk and make sure that each part of the shoe fits your foot. Evaluate the arch, toe, heel, and ball of the foot separately. Each part of the shoe matters when it comes to comfort. Be sure you choose the shape, style, height, and width that fits well. You can also use inserts or pads, such as an arch support, to create a more customized fit. Wear what fits well and feels great — always!
One of Dr. Osterman’s favorite shoe brands is Pikolinos. The podiatrist-approved line boasts options that come with cushioned forefront beds, ample room in the toe boxes, and block heels for more stability. “The wider the heel, the less one has to balance on the shoe,” Dr. Osterman explains. “Think of the heel like a stilt – the smaller the heel, the more the calf muscles have to work, which can be unstable and fatiguing.”
There are many different types of aids to help make a shoe more comfortable even after "breaking them in," and can be purchased at shoe stores, large retailers, and some drugstores. These include special small gel pads for the balls of the feet, heel inserts to help minimize chafing at the back of the shoe and rough patches to glue onto the bottom of a slick sole, affording you better traction.
That pain that you feel at the end of a long night—no, it's not a hangover and it's not exhaustion. We're talking about something worse—the pain that's caused by a seemingly evil and malicious pair of high heels. But, believe it or not, not all high heels are created equal. In some cases, they can actually be healthier for your feet than flats. "Excess pronation is a condition that affects 75 percent of the population and has been related to many conditions, such as heel pain (otherwise known as plantar fasciitis), knee pain, and even lower-back pain," says podiatrist Phillip Vasyli.
Some theory indicates that imagining yourself walking on an invisible straight line can do wonders. If you have ever watched catwalk models, you have seen that they always cross one foot in front of the other. This enables their hips to sway more. Many women wear high heels intending to look attractive and sexy, and they can get extra finesse by improving their walking style and posture.
"Wearing high heels changes the natural biomechanics of the foot which has been honed by thousands of years of walking," he explains. "We also walk on concrete all day every day, which is bad for your feet, leading to a cocktail recipe of stresses to overload joints, muscles and tendons which work together in complex clockwork action to form a normal step.
Overall thoughts: While I did appreciate the cushion this provided, the pads kind of pushed my feet out in a weird way and made my foot do that overflowing loaf thing on one side. I thought maybe this would've worked better had my shoe been bigger, but as it was, I still had a little room in the back, so I don't think it would've actually made a difference. This definitely made the experience of wearing the heels better since it provided some arch support, but it wasn't a lifesaving experience.
Canfield McNish said that the more shoe between the ball of your foot and the ground, the more comfortable you'll likely feel while wearing them. There's a lot of pressure on your foot when the only thing separating it from the ground is a thin sole (plus a non-slip pad, of course), but some of that is relieved when your foot is more cushioned, like it is with a thicker sole.
I’ve spent hours at the drugstore looking through all the gel insoles, heel pads, ball of the foot pads and everything in between. Nothing seemed to work. Finally I decided to take a good long look at my feet. I try not to do that too often due to years of the aforementioned pointe shoes…. On top of it all I have bunions that aren’t very pretty even when at their best. I do, however, take good care of my feet regularly giving myself pedicures. Dancing did one great service to my feet though, due to so much intensive training my feet are strong and flexible therefore saving me from what might be very painful surgery.
"As simple as it sounds, the shoe needs to fit," says podiatric surgeon Dr. Rebecca Pruthi over email. You want to make sure there is space between the longest toe and the end of the shoe. "When shoe shopping, buy at the end of the day when your feet are already swollen," suggests Pruthi. "Also, look at your width of your feet. I see too many women with wide feet cramming into a narrow shoe. This will help avoid bony changes and damage that can lead to bunions, neuromas and hammertoes."
It's amazing how much the shape of your shoe impacts the comfort. For instance, platforms (this kind, not the ones Elton John wore in the '70s) cut down the distance your heels are elevated above the balls of your feet. That means they're not as taxing on your arch, which is especially good when you're towering on at least three inches. A rounder toe box is also worlds more comfortable and better for your feet, because it allows your toes to lay flat. However, pointy toes are doable as long as the point stretches out instead of stopping right where your toes would rest.
Put your foldable flats back in your bag: A night in heels shouldn’t mean you have to hobble home. Before going out, tape your third and fourth toes together using nude or clear medical tape (the flexible kind). This helps take pressure off the ball of the foot. (A bit of biology for those who are interested: There’s a nerve right between these two toes, and the tape minimizes any strain.)
I went to a wedding and my friend had the Still Standing Spray. I sprayed it on my feet as directed and it really worked. I don't wear heals a lot so when I do they usually wind up hurting after a while. I was able to dance all night without any discomfort. When I got back home I ordered the Spray off Amazon for myself and a friend. When I received them, the two big bottles had leaked and everything in the box was wet. I called Amazon and they credited me for the purchase. Inside the box is a note from the owner of Still Standing, Lyn Butler, and a phone number to call if there are any problems or concerns. I called her to let her know what had happened with the leaking bottles because my friend also ordered the spray and hers also leaked. Lyn was GREAT! She handled the problem and was so appreciative that I had called to let her know. She sent both me and my friend replacement bottles the next day. This product REALLY WORKS and the Customer Service at Still Standing Spray is TOP NOTCH. Give it a try...your feet will thank you!!!
She also suggested that going for a platform with your high heel, or a shorter heel, can drastically change your comfort levels, explaining: "Choose to wear a height that is manageable, this is pretty subjective, but having a less high heel or a platform sole can make a huge difference to comfort." Anisha agreed, and advised to "get platform shoes that also have a heel under the ball of the foot to reduce the gradient of the foot".
Making sure that the leather is conditioned is one thing that you can do to help keep your shoes in tip-top shape. Canfield McNish also recommended making sure that all of your heels have non-slip pads attached to the bottom. You can buy these at shoe stores, online, at stores like Target and Walmart, or at your local cobbler. The pads help keep you avoid slipping, but they also help protect your shoes from premature wear.