Canfield McNish said that the more shoe between the ball of your foot and the ground, the more comfortable you'll likely feel while wearing them. There's a lot of pressure on your foot when the only thing separating it from the ground is a thin sole (plus a non-slip pad, of course), but some of that is relieved when your foot is more cushioned, like it is with a thicker sole.
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.”
"Put maxi pads in your high heels. It holds your foot snug in the shoe, it offers a little bit more cushion, and as your feet sweat, it absorbs the moisture," she told me during a phone call last week. With my mind blown, I asked her to clarify, and it's exactly what you'd think: Insert the pad with the sticky side down, trimming if you need for size, and then get ready for a comfortable night of merriment (or standing on your feet at a work event).
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.
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.”
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.
When you walk, lead with your thighs, moving your entire leg forward at once. Think about it: You're probably used to letting your feet lead, right? It takes practice, but you'll find yourself putting less pressure on the ball of your foot this way. And remember: Move your legs from the hips and keep your legs straight. Bending knees looks goofy with heels.
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.