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.
You need to complement your shoe shape and sole width with the shape of your feet to avoid pain on your feet while wearing your favorite pair of heels so it is important to know your foot type. Our suggestion is that you consult a podiatrist; it will be the best way to know your foot type and what’s going on. If you can’t run out to the podiatrist, there’s a couple of neat ways to see if you have a flat foot or a high-arch foot. Wet your foot and step onto a piece of construction paper. When you make an impression, it will show you how much your foot is flattening or how high of an arch you have. You can look at a person’s foot type and see why they are having pain.
Add footpads: I then Frankenstein my own orthotics into every shoe, depending on the fit. Consider one of these: a very slim insert with a heel cup and slight arch (if you need arch support), heel cushion (for heel pain) or a foot “tongue” pad (use under the foot for cushion, or put on the underside of the top of the shoe to prevent sliding forward). A podiatrist can help you with custom inserts, or you can do as I do, which is buy them in bulk at the drugstore or online.
Español: ablandar los zapatos de tacón alto, Deutsch: Schuhe mit hohen Absätzen einlaufen, Português: Amaciar Sapatos de Salto Alto, Italiano: Ammorbidire le Scarpe col Tacco Alto, Русский: разносить туфли на высоких каблуках, Français: assouplir des chaussures à talons hauts, Bahasa Indonesia: Melonggarkan Sepatu Bertumit Tinggi, Nederlands: Schoenen met hoge hakken inlopen
This secret to reduce pain while wearing heels is so good, you’re going to want to share it. Woman’s Wear Daily recommends taping your third and fourth toes (counting from the big toe) together to alleviate pain from wearing high heels. Sound crazy? The proof is in the science: there’s a nerve that splits between those two toes, which causes pain when pressure is put on it (like when you wear heels). The tape helps to remove strain on the nerve.
When you walk, lead with your thighs, moving your entire leg forward at once. Think about it: You're probably used to letting your feet lead, right? It takes practice, but you'll find yourself putting less pressure on the ball of your foot this way. And remember: Move your legs from the hips and keep your legs straight. Bending knees looks goofy with heels.
Iggy Azalea walked a mile in her Louboutins, but can you imagine what walking even a couple blocks in these would feel like afterward? It's amazing that we willingly wear shoes that sometimes hurt so much, it takes an hour-long ice bath just to recover. And yet, it's hard to ditch high heels completely: They elongate your legs, they make your calves look amazing, and there's something empowering about the sound of your own feet clacking against a hard surface.
"Put maxi pads in your high heels. It holds your foot snug in the shoe, it offers a little bit more cushion, and as your feet sweat, it absorbs the moisture," she told me during a phone call last week. With my mind blown, I asked her to clarify, and it's exactly what you'd think: Insert the pad with the sticky side down, trimming if you need for size, and then get ready for a comfortable night of merriment (or standing on your feet at a work event).
"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."
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.