Here’s an interesting tip — one certainly worth trying if it means a painless shoe experience. “Taping your third and fourth toes together (counting from the big toe) will help with the pain,” Stempien said. “Yes, it’s a little weird, but there’s actually a nerve there that contributes to foot pain. Stress on the nerve is alleviated when supported by the other toe. Keep in mind this might not work for high-heeled sandals or deep peep-toes.”
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.”
Whether her explanation is 100 percent scientifically sound is, in this case, slightly irrelevant. By my fourth day of wearing five-inch ankle boots without any pain, I was sold. Personally, I prefer using Band-Aids, bandages, or soft tape, since the thought of securing my two toes together with anything stickier gives me goosebumps and the fear of damaging my feet even further.
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.
Many people have lauded the method of taping toes to wear heels, and Osteopath Anisha Joshi of Woodside Clinic Regent Street has confirmed that this is a useful way to reducing pain. Chatting to HELLO!, she said: "They say you should tape your 3rd and 4th toes together as it takes the pressure off the ball of your foot. There is a nerve that splits between these two toes and by limiting the pressure placed on it, it can reduce the sensation of pain."
The No. 1 mistake women likely make is 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.
If you're willing to sacrifice a little height for the ability to walk through a room with ease, consider shaving down the heel. For around $15, a shoe repair shop like Steve Express Shoe Repair in New York City can simply cut off a portion of the spike. According to Steve, the owner, the maximum that's usually removed is "around an inch." Any more and you would feel the difference in the shoe's arched construction.
One hack that might help with walking in stiletto heels is using heel caps. These, usually used to help with walking on grass & cobblestones in heels also work for making walking easier. Because they not only protect your heel points, but also add more surface area to your heels, hence, making your stiletto, much less..well…stiletto-ey! And easier to walk in.
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.
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.
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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.