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.
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It’s the age old question every woman: How to wear high heels without pain.. Many of us (guilty, here) have throughout the years adopted a “grin and bear it” attitude, choosing our love for stylish shoes over our desire to be comfortable. It’s a trait we aren’t necessarily proud of, and one that regularly has the men in our lives raising their eyebrows in disbelief.
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.
As a New Yorker, I walk a lot. To get to and from the subway, I walk about two miles daily, if Google Maps is to be believed. Before I even got to work on Monday, the familiar pain in the balls of my feet was there. By the end of Tuesday, both feet were sore from wearing heels two days in a row. By lunch on Wednesday, I had slipped back into flats, plummeting three inches back to earth.
Rough up the bottoms of your heels. It’s important that your shoes have a decent amount of traction on the bottom. Walking in high heels will be a lot easier and safer if you’re not sliding around all over the place. New heels tend to have smoother bottoms that become rougher once scuffed. Speed up the process by roughing up the bottom of your heels using a piece of sandpaper. Rub the bottom of your heels for a minute or two, or until the bottoms feel noticeably rougher.
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.”
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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.
5. Stick Moleskin on the parts of your shoes that rub. Moleskin is a soft cotton fabric that has an adhesive back and can be cut to any size. If you have one part of the shoe that rubs (be it the toe, the heel, or a strap) cut a small piece of Moleskin and adhere it to the inside of the shoe. This will prevent friction and your feet can dance all night long.
It's a serious dedication to wearing heels - the like of which used to be the preserve of the Victoria Beckhams of the world. Though it's hardly surprising the procedure has become more popular given that according to the College of Podiatry, 50 per cent of women have suffered foot problems after wearing ill-fitting shoes, and 43 per cent suffer in the name of fashion.
Stretch your feet before and after you put your shoes on/off. There are some targeted stretches that will help you get at the front of the foot and ankle (key pain points from heel usage). An example of a stretch like this is pointing your toes down, and pulling your toes up with a strap, this gets the Achilles’ tendon and the calf muscles going a bit. You can replicate this stretch to the inside and outside as well.
"High heels may be painful for anyone; women suffering from varicose veins and underlying venous insufficiency are especially prone to discomfort," says Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth, an endovascular surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates. "Veins have a series of series of one-way valves to facilitate the return of blood towards the heart... While veins anywhere in the body can become varicose, veins in the legs are most affected due to the larger pressure from sustained standing, walking or other stress on the legs or feet."
Have you ever noticed how frustrating it is to deal with your feet slipping out of your heels the minute they leave the ground? Even worse, loose shoes often make you drag your feet in an attempt to prevent them from falling out. Heels with straps, ties, or buckles over the ankle or feet offer a solution. Go for adjustable straps to accommodate swelling.
If you're willing to sacrifice a little height for the ability to walk through a room with ease, consider shaving down the heel. For around $15, a shoe repair shop like Steve Express Shoe Repair in New York City can simply cut off a portion of the spike. According to Steve, the owner, the maximum that's usually removed is "around an inch." Any more and you would feel the difference in the shoe's arched construction.
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.
To wear high heels without pain, Carnation Footcare's Podiatrist Dave Wain has suggested that the most defence is to be prepared. If you know you are wearing heels that tend to hurt your feet after a certain amount of time, stock your bag with everything you need to help. He said: "Go prepared – have in your bag some first aid supplies to deal with potential foot problems before they get too painful i.e. sticky plasters for cuts, damaged toenails or bleeding blisters, anti-blister treatments for rubbing areas." You could even also carry a pair of foldable flat shoes with you, just in case the heels prove too much at the end of the evening!
Some of you are likely now saying, "Why don't you just wear flats?" Let me tell you, I wear sneakers whenever possible, but I also like to get dressed up and wear heels sometimes! The 2017 rules of feminism definitely say that women don't ever have to wear heels, so if they're not your thing, just go for flats. I know a lot of girls, and some guys who love to wear heels, though, even at the expense of comfort.
One way to make your heels more comfortable is to wear them in. Wear them around the house, wear them to run an errand, or even for a walk around the block before you wear them all night to a big event. To speed up the process, if your shoes are made from a sturdy leather material, you can even blow dry them! "The heat from the blow dryer can make it easier to break in an uncomfortable pair of heels", says Lexie Nicole, a part time pole fitness instructor. She suggests this to her students:
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I’ve heard people argue that my new, near-daily ritual is ridiculous, that no shoe is worth that much pain or effort. But how different are heels from other small rituals we undertake every day, such as applying makeup? The payoff in terms of the confidence I feel when stomping down the street in a pair of killer heels is worth way more than the extra 30 seconds added to my morning routine.