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.
Blast your heels with heat. Heat is an effective way to soften a material and make it more pliable. Carefully warm your heels using a blow dryer or a small heater for about a minute or two. Watch how your heels react to the heat because certain materials don't do so well under heat for long periods of time. You can bend and twist your heels while they’re still warm. Or you can wait until they’ve cooled and put them on with a pair of socks to stretch them.
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Christmas and New Year's parties should have us dancing the night away, but amid the bubbles, karaoke and Secret Santa gifts is that pesky foot pain from having to keep those sparkly stilettos on for hours on end. High heels looked great but can be painful, and so to help we have put together top tips for being able to walk (and dance) in heels without pain. Check out our tips so you can party pain free!
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.
Dr Naomi explained: "When you wear a high heel there is a huge amount of pressure bearing down on the soles of the feet, so a platform sole underneath can diffuse the pressure. There is more padding between the foot and the pavement. Thick heels can be more comfortable for walking than stilettos, as again there is more surface area for the pressure."
You should always choose heels with thicker souls because that will ensure that you have enough ground to land your feet on. The ground will give you ample space to your feet and you will feel comfortable walking in them. Your legs can be hurt by thin soles because they put more pressure on your feet and dirt and other external agents can get into the legs and make your feet dirty and cracked.
Nada Allam Nada Allam is a walking Bath and Body Works store, at any time of the day you will always find at least 1 or 2 of their products in her tote. With her cat eyes, retro style, and beautiful accessories, she remindes you of leading ladies from black and white movies, we always tell her you should've been born in the 1920s. Though she studied Political Science and Creative Writing, she always manages to surprise the entire office with her sudden high pitches that come out whenever she's excited. She's also extremely sensitive and easily affected by music, think something along Adele vibes, but that doesn't mean that she can't be fierce when it's needed. Nada would never leave the house without her set of accessories. Her favorite designers are Rachel Zoe and Carolina Herrera. You can reach her on firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nallam46.
"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."
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.
A good local butcher is hard to find, but a cobbler? If you’re lucky enough to live close to one, make him your BFF now! “The rubber lifts and soles of high-heeled shoe styles get worn down with extended wear, making them uneven and uncomfortable,” Barry said. “Take your shoes to your local cobbler when this starts to happen to prevent damage — to you and your shoe!”
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.”
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.
Wet the insides of your high heel shoes to stretch them. Water can speed up the breaking in process by helping to mold the inside material of your shoes to your feet. Take a damp cloth and rub the insides of your high heels. Put them on while they’re still moist and wear them for an hour or more. You can also dampen a pair of socks and wear them with your high heels for the same amount of time.
Despite the reigning popularity of sneakers and flats, high heels will always be around. And on occasions that do call for heels, you might as well maximize the comfort level in any way that you can. So if you’ve ever hobbled home after a long day or night in heels, this tip for how to make heels more comfortable is for you: Tape your third and fourth toes (counting from the big toe) together—we recommend nude medical tape for a low-profile look, but Scotch tape works in a pinch—to alleviate pain in the ball of your foot. Sound crazy? Here’s the reasoning: There’s a nerve that splits between those two toes, which causes pain when pressure is put on it (aka when you wear heels). The tape removes strain on the nerve, allowing you to dance the night away.
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.
Don't forget the heel taps on your shoes, either. "If you let those start getting to the point where they're chewed up, by the heel, or by just walking on gravel or stone, it's going to make it more likely that you're going to topple over, because if they're uneven, then you're going to be — literally — on uneven footing, so replacing those regularly, before they get bad, is important and that's going to help your shoe last longer too," Canfield McNish said.
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.
According to New York City-based podiatrist Emily Splichal, it’s not only about the heel. It’s important how you treat your feet post-wear, too: “Focus on stiletto recovery after a day or night in heels,” Dr. Splichal says. She rolling feet on a golf ball, stretching the calves, and spreading the toes with products like Correct Toes or Yoga Toes. “Even the healthiest heels are still stressful to the foot and body, so recovery is one of the most important secrets to being able to wear heels pain-free.”
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She also suggests some products for pain relief, like foot alignment socks, Correct Toes, or other toe spacers when not wearing your heels. And, regular stretching and exercises can help, too. DeGrave notes a few simple exercises from Katy Bowman, and also suggests: "keep a half foam roller somewhere you might find yourself standing around for a few minutes, say in the bathroom while you brush your teeth, so you can calf stretch while going about your day — I keep one out on my living room floor and do this while watching tv!"
Despite the fact that doctors warn of their dangers and legions of wearing sky-high heels, women still do it anyway, so it’s obvious that high heels are here to stay. The leg-lengthening, back-side lifting visual effects are hard to argue with, but the trade-off can be blisters, bunions and just plain old sore feet. So to take the edge off the pain with these 5 hacks to make heels a bit more comfortable.
Ice Ice Baby: The key to stretching your heels to be slightly more comfortable is sitting right in your kitchen! By filling plastic bags with water, putting the bags inside your shoes, and placing the shoes in the freezer, the water will expand as it freezes and stretch out your heels. Just make sure there is no air left in the bags before you seal them tight. Seventeen suggests keeping the shoes in the freezer for 4 to 8 hours, and then "let them sit at room temperature until the ice thaws to a point where you can slip the bags out of your shoes."
Comfortable heels do exist, and I happen to own some of them. But every girl knows that some heels are not comfortable in any way, and we wear them only because they look amazing. Pain for the sake of beauty sucks. Why should you walk around in heels that pinch your feet and make your legs ache? Why should you feel like you’re about to fall over the second you stand up or take a step? Why should you spend an entire day longingly thinking of your slippers? There are things you can do to make heels comfier – and some of you need to start doing them, because going barefoot in public is not okay.
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.
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.
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".
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.
If you're pounding the pavement and walking a lot in your high heels, try wearing an insert. Dr. Scholl's is well known for their shoe comfort accessories. This brand has a vast array of inserts and pads that you can purchase at almost any drug store, including some for the sole of the shoe, cushion for the ball, and even a barrier between the back of the shoe and your heel. Try the Stylish Step High Heel Relief Insoles in your favorite pair of heels for a dose of comfort.
"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.
Your feet are going to have to do a lot more work if you're constantly slipping around because your new shoes don't have any traction yet. Take some sandpaper and rub it against the bottom of your heels until they're noticeably rougher. This will create more friction between your shoe and the floor, and prevent you from taking an embarrassing tumble on the dance floor.
Wear your heels around the house before a night out to get a feel for them. This is particularly helpful while breaking in a new pair of stilettos, as you can suss out where the shoes might rub. One way to deal with this is to put on thick socks with your shoes before a night out and blow dry the area where the shoes might rub for half a minute, which would help the shoe to expand and stretch. Another method is to fill plastic bags with water and place them in your shoes, then put them in a freeze. The ice will help stretch out the shoes, making those nasty rubbing blisters a thing of the past!
3. Widen the toes out with ice. When water freezes, it expands. Use this simple science lesson to stretch out your shoes. Start by filling a one-quart sized ziplock bag about halfway full of water. Then, zip up the bag and check to make sure it’s not leaking. Stick the water bag into the toe of the heel and put the entire shoe in the freezer. If you really need to stretch them out, add two or more bags into the toe box. Once frozen, the bags will expand and the shoe.
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.
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.