Let's face it—my telling you not to wear heels won't convince you to stop (I wouldn't listen to me say that either), but how can you do so comfortably—and safely? As an ER doctor, I’ve treated many women with high heel-related injuries—including one who fell after getting her heel caught in cobblestones. In fact, a recent study showed that ER visits for injuries caused by heels have doubled since 2002, leading to foot and ankle sprains, fractures and other injuries.
"Just because it's a super high-end brand, doesn't always mean it's great materials, and paying attention to that and asking the salesperson that you're working with those questions can be really important," Canfield McNish said. It's also important to pay attention to the details of the shoes' design. If they feature cutouts or they're strappy, that can be hard on your feet too.
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.
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.
To wear high heels without pain, Carnation Footcare's Podiatrist Dave Wain has suggested that the most defence is to be prepared. If you know you are wearing heels that tend to hurt your feet after a certain amount of time, stock your bag with everything you need to help. He said: "Go prepared – have in your bag some first aid supplies to deal with potential foot problems before they get too painful i.e. sticky plasters for cuts, damaged toenails or bleeding blisters, anti-blister treatments for rubbing areas." You could even also carry a pair of foldable flat shoes with you, just in case the heels prove too much at the end of the evening!
Also known as “second skin,” moleskin is not actually animal hide (fortunately) but soft cotton flannel with adhesive backing. Sold in sheets and available in most drug stores and online, you can cut and customize the shape of moleskin to cover any trouble spots you have on your feet. It molds to the shape of your feet better than a bandage, and unlike a bandage, it won’t hang off your Achilles after half a day of walking.
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Gel insoles solve a lot of heel-wearing problems. For one thing, they can prevent toes from scrunching and thereby prevent blisters. Dr. Scholl's sells high heel insoles with arch shaping to keep pressure off your foot. If your toes are constantly sliding forward in your shoes, there’s even a cushion designed to hold the ball of your foot in place. The gel inserts stick to your shoe insoles well but are also easy to swap among your shoes. The product's website advises to replace them every six months, or when they start to tear.
You need to complement your shoe shape and sole width with the shape of your feet to avoid pain on your feet while wearing your favorite pair of heels so it is important to know your foot type. Our suggestion is that you consult a podiatrist; it will be the best way to know your foot type and what’s going on. If you can’t run out to the podiatrist, there’s a couple of neat ways to see if you have a flat foot or a high-arch foot. Wet your foot and step onto a piece of construction paper. When you make an impression, it will show you how much your foot is flattening or how high of an arch you have. You can look at a person’s foot type and see why they are having pain.