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.
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.”
Vasyli recommends opting for well-constructed "quality" shoes, especially those that have shock absorbing materials in the ball of the foot, and using an insert like Orthaheel, which he invented. He also suggests wearing your highest heels for only short periods at a time and giving them a little bit of closet time now and then."If you feel the need to wear higher-heeled shoes daily, then take a more comfortable shoe to get to and from work and wear the higher shoes while you're sitting at your desk," he adds.
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!”
Put your foldable flats back in your bag: A night in heels shouldn’t mean you have to hobble home. Before going out, tape your third and fourth toes together using nude or clear medical tape (the flexible kind). This helps take pressure off the ball of the foot. (A bit of biology for those who are interested: There’s a nerve right between these two toes, and the tape minimizes any strain.)
I read about this stuff in some magazine at the salon (O, inStyle, Vogue? not sure which) and since high heels are not my best friend, I decided to give it a try. First time I used it, I was totally dressed except for my shoes when I remembered it, so I sprayed it on through my hose. The menthol scent was a kind of strong at first but it went away after a couple minutes. It felt cool and kind of tingly. I waited a minute or so until it dried some then I put on my spike heels and went off to party. Pretty amazing-- nearly 4 hours later I wasn't in any pain even though I 'd been standing nearly the whole time. I used it again the next day for work and was able to stay in my heels all day--a record for me. I did have to touch it up after about 5 hours but then I was good for the rest of the day. It wasn't greasy and didn't stain my stockings or shoes. Good stuff!
The more coverage you have on the top of your foot, the better. Sometimes high-heeled boots are actually something you can wear all day and they don’t bother your feet as much. In the summer, you can try something with an ankle strap or a big wide strap across the top. If you’re prone to blisters and friction, you might want to try that style, something that covers more of the top of your foot.
You need to find your correct shoe size if you want to get rid of the pain. If you wear heels that fit you perfectly, your pain will lessen drastically. But if you choose a size bigger than your foot size, you will feel uncomfortable all the time because it will get out of your legs continuously. But remember that on the other hand, if your shoes are too tight for your feet, then it will hurt them and leave ugly marks on them. So you need to choose the correct size so that you feel comfortable while walking.
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 a serious dedication to wearing heels - the like of which used to be the preserve of the Victoria Beckhams of the world. Though it's hardly surprising the procedure has become more popular given that according to the College of Podiatry, 50 per cent of women have suffered foot problems after wearing ill-fitting shoes, and 43 per cent suffer in the name of fashion.