As a New Yorker, I walk a lot. To get to and from the subway, I walk about two miles daily, if Google Maps is to be believed. Before I even got to work on Monday, the familiar pain in the balls of my feet was there. By the end of Tuesday, both feet were sore from wearing heels two days in a row. By lunch on Wednesday, I had slipped back into flats, plummeting three inches back to earth.
I’ve never been a casual footwear type of gal, which is precisely why finding the one hack to wearing high heels without pain has been an important mission of mine. Honestly, the thought of slipping my feet into sneakers just never sat right with me. And despite a brief fling with Doc Martens, the number of sensible shoes in my wardrobe began to rapidly deplete until I realized I owned not one pair of flat kicks. But as they say, with beauty comes pain. Despite my commitment to a life of platforms and high heels, I never quite got over the blisters and discomfort that so often come as a byproduct.
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.
5. Stick Moleskin on the parts of your shoes that rub. Moleskin is a soft cotton fabric that has an adhesive back and can be cut to any size. If you have one part of the shoe that rubs (be it the toe, the heel, or a strap) cut a small piece of Moleskin and adhere it to the inside of the shoe. This will prevent friction and your feet can dance all night long.
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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.
The number one mistake women make would probably be not having the right shoe size for their foot. Your foot size changes over the years, even as much as one full size, especially after having kids. Have your feet sized once a year, and do it if you’ve never had it done. Have your feet measured when you’re buying shoes, for width and for length as well. A lot of people think they’re a wide or vise versa and they’re not, so definitely do that before you shop.
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.
Always keep your heels stuffed. Naturally your heels with shrink when they’re not being worn. Since you don’t want all of your breaking in efforts be in vain, keep them stuffed when you’re not wearing them. You can stuff your shoes with the shoe paper and rod that come with the shoes when you buy them. You can keep them filled with shoe trees, which are inserts molded into the shape of the inside of your high heel shoes. Or you can simply stuff them with rags.
She also suggested that going for a platform with your high heel, or a shorter heel, can drastically change your comfort levels, explaining: "Choose to wear a height that is manageable, this is pretty subjective, but having a less high heel or a platform sole can make a huge difference to comfort." Anisha agreed, and advised to "get platform shoes that also have a heel under the ball of the foot to reduce the gradient of the foot".
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.
It turns out that it's not the length of your heel that's the most important factor in comfort, it's the width. Many high heel lovers turn to a wider heel, like a block heel, to distribute their weight and walk on sturdy support. Try the Motola Heel from comfortable brand, Born. You can walk down the street or stride around the office with comfort and confidence!
Since water expands when it's frozen, you can use ice to stretch your shoes. All you have to do is fill two freezer bags with water, making sure to remove all the air from them before sealing. Place the bags in your shoes, then put them in the freezer. Leave them in there for 4 to 8 hours. Once the water has properly frozen, take your shoes out of the freezer and let them sit at room temperature until the ice thaws to a point where you can slip the bags out of your shoes. Voila! Your shoes should be nice and stretched for more comfy wearing.
Safety Warning — Each application lasts up to 2 hours. Can safely reapply up to 4 times daily. — Use only as directedFor external use onlyIf condition worsens, or if symptoms persist for more than 7 days or clear up and occur again with a few days -discontinue use of this product and consult a physicianPregnancy - Breast feeding warning:If pregnant or breastfeeding ask a physician before use.To not use with other topical productDo not use with heating devicesDo not use on open wounds, damaged or irritated skin
"As simple as it sounds, the shoe needs to fit," says podiatric surgeon Dr. Rebecca Pruthi over email. You want to make sure there is space between the longest toe and the end of the shoe. "When shoe shopping, buy at the end of the day when your feet are already swollen," suggests Pruthi. "Also, look at your width of your feet. I see too many women with wide feet cramming into a narrow shoe. This will help avoid bony changes and damage that can lead to bunions, neuromas and hammertoes."
Keep silica gel packets in your shoes when they’re not being worn. Have you noticed after purchasing a pair of new shoes those little white packets containing tiny clear balls inside your shoe box? Those packets contain silica gel which absorb moisture and keep your shoes from shrinking. Hold on to those packets instead of throwing them away and stick them in your shoes when you’re not wearing them. You can ask a shoe store associate for extras, if necessary.