I may be a hardened heel advocate, but the lower foot pain in this case just never seemed to be worth the payoff. However, I’ve come to swear by one very cheap, slightly weird-sounding, simple trick to avoid that dull pain in the balls of your feet. You know, the kind that comes from attempting to wear anything taller than three inches with a heel thinner than a pencil for more than two hours straight.
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 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.
According to Sutera, there are three key elements any body-healthy shoe should have. “In a sensible shoe, you need shock absorption, cushioning and arch support. When you’re not getting that on a regular basis, you’re either going to cause an injury or make something that you are susceptible to, such as a bunion or hammertoe, worse.” In addition, according to the APMA, any high-heel shoe should have a heel that is two inches or shorter to decrease strain on the body.
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.”
Making sure that the leather is conditioned is one thing that you can do to help keep your shoes in tip-top shape. Canfield McNish also recommended making sure that all of your heels have non-slip pads attached to the bottom. You can buy these at shoe stores, online, at stores like Target and Walmart, or at your local cobbler. The pads help keep you avoid slipping, but they also help protect your shoes from premature wear.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
It's amazing how much the shape of your shoe impacts the comfort. For instance, platforms (this kind, not the ones Elton John wore in the '70s) cut down the distance your heels are elevated above the balls of your feet. That means they're not as taxing on your arch, which is especially good when you're towering on at least three inches. A rounder toe box is also worlds more comfortable and better for your feet, because it allows your toes to lay flat. However, pointy toes are doable as long as the point stretches out instead of stopping right where your toes would rest.
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.