When it comes to shopping for high-heeled shoes, comfort is key. But what do you do if you're not keen on the brands or styles that offer the best comfort? Or if that perfect pair of heels for your dress isn't exactly built with comfort in mind? These simple tips will help you customize or adjust your favorite pair of high heels so you can wear them without pain.
In the past, a night in heels always meant a trip to the drug store the next morning for a new pack of Band Aids for the blisters and black-and-blue marks on my knees. (Yes, I'm that 5'7" girl who has no idea how to walk in heels.) Ahead, find eight incredibly useful hacks to make high heels more comfortable and watch my aesthetic transform from high-top Michael Jordan to high-heel Carrie Bradshaw . . . because heels should be enjoyed and celebrated, not associated with dread.
"Taking breaks at regular intervals is mandatory" Once, years ago, I attended a movie premier gala for the second "Sex in the City." Of course, high heels were required attire, and mine were very high! There were very few places to sit at the gala, and I must have stood in those heels for over two hours straight before going into the theater. The first order of business was to remove my shoes after finding my seat, and I spent the whole movie stretching my feet, as it says to do above. When the movie ended, I gathered my shoes from under my seat, feeling revived enough to make the two-block walk back to the car. But, hard as I tried, I could only get one of the shoes to go onto my swollen foot. Walking with one leg 5" longer than the other was not an option, so I made the trek barefooted. It was raining when I left the theater, and although I first met it with an "Oh, Sh*t," I quickly found that the puddles were welcomed finds along the way, as the cold water felt so good to my feet. ;-)
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.
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."
Lead With Your Thighs. It’s all in the thighs, as strange as that probably sounds hear us out. When you walk, lead each step with your thighs, moving your entire leg forward in one fluid motion. Think about it: You’re probably used to letting your feet take the lead. It takes practice, but if you employ this method you’ll find yourself placing less pressure on the ball of your foot, and ultimately reducing the torque your feet are under.
You can use heat to soften the material of your new shoes. Using a blow dryer, blast your shoes with air (make sure to move the blow dryer around to evenly distribute the air and avoid melting the material). Once the material is warmed up and more pliable, gently twist and bend the shoes in the center to break them in. Don't go overboard and bend them so far that they don't return to their natural shape, or so hard that they break.
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!"
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.
We all know how painful breaking in a new pair of shoes can be…especially heels. So the next time you want to skip the agony, try this handy hack. Wear those new heels with a thick pair of socks and then aim a blow dryer at all the tight corners. The heat will help stretch the material of your shoes, breaking them in much faster. Goodbye, blisters!
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.