As someone who stands at a very short five feet tall, I love wearing high heels. It’s not because I hate being short – I actually like it. It’s because I love the extra boost high heels give me. Wearing a cute heel makes me feel more confident, in charge, and mature. Whether it’s a stiletto, a chunky heel, a small heel, or a wedge, I wear some sort of high heel style every day. I love it, but I’ll be the first person to tell you that, damn, high heels can be uncomfortable.
Rough up the bottoms of your heels. It’s important that your shoes have a decent amount of traction on the bottom. Walking in high heels will be a lot easier and safer if you’re not sliding around all over the place. New heels tend to have smoother bottoms that become rougher once scuffed. Speed up the process by roughing up the bottom of your heels using a piece of sandpaper. Rub the bottom of your heels for a minute or two, or until the bottoms feel noticeably rougher.
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"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."
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.
But you don't have to swear off high heels altogether. It's possible to make high heels more comfortable. Just pay attention to how much lift you're getting. “Two inches is my cut-off,” says Ward. “A heel below that height does not add significant stress to the metatarsals as the weight can remain distributed between the heel and forefoot.” This also helps you stay balanced (read: no wipe-outs) in your kicks, she notes.
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.
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.
One thing to try are the over-the-counter products that market themselves for high heels. They are called metatarsal or ball of the foot pads. They are oval-shaped pads that go under the ball of the foot, usually made from a silicone gel. They combat soreness under the ball of the foot. Especially if it’s made of silicone, it will hold your foot more steady in the shoe so your feet aren’t sliding forward as much, which will protect your toes from friction and blisters.
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.