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.

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.
The problem with buying new heels just for prom is that since you bought them just for prom, you don't want to get them dirty before the big night, so you never properly wear them in. Heels already do a number on your feet, but if you wear them to prom right out of the box, you risk getting blisters and cramps and having to ditch them way before the night is through because of how badly they hurt your feet.
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. 
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.

New York City-based podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera encourages women to wear “commuter shoes” so they’re not pounding the pavement in not-so-comfy soles all day. “Change into your heels at the event or party,” she advises. Try choosing strappy but sensible pumps like these that are appropriate for work, a dressed up brunch, or even happy hour. The versatile heel also comes with a cushioned footbed, so your feet can feel at ease at any type of event.
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.

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.” 

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Also known as “second skin,” moleskin is not actually animal hide (fortunately) but soft cotton flannel with adhesive backing. Sold in sheets and available in most drug stores and online, you can cut and customize the shape of moleskin to cover any trouble spots you have on your feet. It molds to the shape of your feet better than a bandage, and unlike a bandage, it won’t hang off your Achilles after half a day of walking.
High heel shoes are very common footwear for women. We wear it at work, in school, when we’re hanging out with friends, and basically everywhere. Sure, sneakers and flats are comfy but high heels just give us that much-needed confidence to do what we have to do. Admit it, wearing them sometimes cause pain and blisters and no woman is immune to that. It’s good that there are hacks we can do to lessen the pain. Are you ready? Here they are.
Wet the insides of your high heel shoes to stretch them.[6] 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.
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.
Consider a lower or more comfortable style. Choose a thicker and more stable heel like a platform, wedge, or chunky heel to provide more support and weight distribution. Shy away from pointed-toe styles if you have wide feet or toes, opting for round or almond-shaped instead. You can also buy heeled boots or heels with ankle straps to help support your ankles.[3]
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.” 
Do some foot exercises and stretching. These exercises will help your nerves get more flexible and take the next heel day attack better prepared. The stretches that you’ll want to do are the stretches that will target the front of the foot and ankle, like pointing your toes down and pulling your toes up with a strap to get the Achilles’ tendon and the calf muscles. And then side to side to get to the instep and the outside of the foot.
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Whether her explanation is 100 percent scientifically sound is, in this case, slightly irrelevant. By my fourth day of wearing five-inch ankle boots without any pain, I was sold. Personally, I prefer using Band-Aids, bandages, or soft tape, since the thought of securing my two toes together with anything stickier gives me goosebumps and the fear of damaging my feet even further.
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