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.
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Avoid buying high heels in the morning. This is because your feet tend to be relaxed in the then. It is advisable to go shoe shopping when your feet are swollen and tired, preferably in the evening on your way from work. Before purchasing, be sure to try them again in the morning just to compare both situations. If it fits as well then you can make the payment.
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.
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.
Bend and twist them. You can work out the stiffness of your new heels by bending and twisting them. Apply slight pressure as you bend the shoes upwards and downwards and twist them side to side. Don’t do either method too hard or too quickly. You don’t want to force the shoe into a position that it shouldn’t be making. Doing so could damage the shoe or weaken it in places that should remain sturdy.
Also, if you're wondering whether this means Katie has had maxi pads in her shoes every time we've seen her at a Pump event, the answer is "most of the time." If you're a huge fan of the show, you must read my entire chat with her. I found her to be super relatable, and she shared some mean beauty DIYs (as well as answering my fangirl question about Kyle Richards' hair).
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.
As well as suggesting Carnation Footcare's Gel Cushions, Dave suggested strengthening your feet and toes before a night out. He said: "Consciously straightening them and wiggling [your toes] can really help. You can also increase your foot flexibility, which will help your feet to cope in heels by following these steps: Stand facing a wall about 2 feet away. Place one foot against the wall, 3/4 inches from the floor, keeping your heel on the floor. Gently move your knee towards the wall until you feel slight stretching. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 5 times, and then do the same with the other foot."
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.
Many people have lauded the method of taping toes to wear heels, and Osteopath Anisha Joshi of Woodside Clinic Regent Street has confirmed that this is a useful way to reducing pain. Chatting to HELLO!, she said: "They say you should tape your 3rd and 4th toes together as it takes the pressure off the ball of your foot. There is a nerve that splits between these two toes and by limiting the pressure placed on it, it can reduce the sensation of pain."
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.”
There’s a way to walk in flats and there’s a way to strut in heels and never should the two be confused. “Heels are not sneakers — you have to carry yourself differently,” Stempien said. “Use your core muscles and stand up straight. Pretend you’re strutting your stuff on the catwalk and use your hips and legs to propel yourself forward. It should feel more like a bounce than a normal stride. Practice it at home until you’ve got it down pat — this can be one of the easiest ways to avoid pain in heels.”
Looking for a new take on your basic ballet flat? These low pumps are perfect for spring and summer, thanks to their pink patent-leather upper. Plus, at a height of just 1 1/2 inches, the shoes meet our podiatrists’ standards: “Try to keep heel height three inches and below,” says Dr. Splichal. “For every inch over three, the stress to the foot and body dramatically increases.”
Here’s an interesting tip — one certainly worth trying if it means a painless shoe experience. “Taping your third and fourth toes together (counting from the big toe) will help with the pain,” Stempien said. “Yes, it’s a little weird, but there’s actually a nerve there that contributes to foot pain. Stress on the nerve is alleviated when supported by the other toe. Keep in mind this might not work for high-heeled sandals or deep peep-toes.”
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.
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.
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.
"Just because it's a super high-end brand, doesn't always mean it's great materials, and paying attention to that and asking the salesperson that you're working with those questions can be really important," Canfield McNish said. It's also important to pay attention to the details of the shoes' design. If they feature cutouts or they're strappy, that can be hard on your feet too.
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.
Who doesn't like to put on a pair of dressy heels for an evening out. Unfortunately, I thought my days for wearing heels were over for good. Thankfully, a friend insisted I try Still Standing Spray and eventually gave in just to shut her up. What a surprise. I wore my favorite pair of heels to my cousin's wedding last week - and it worked. I had to respray after a few hours with mini size but didn't mind since my feet felt so much better.
Back blisters are the bane of every heel-wearer’s existence. (It’s bad enough your toes are suffering, but your heels, too?) To help prevent friction—that causes the blisters—against your heels, rub a little lip balm to the back of your feet where the skin meets the shoes. This will form an extra layer that’ll help prevent any painful blisters from ruining your day.