That pain that you feel at the end of a long night—no, it's not a hangover and it's not exhaustion. We're talking about something worse—the pain that's caused by a seemingly evil and malicious pair of high heels. But, believe it or not, not all high heels are created equal. In some cases, they can actually be healthier for your feet than flats. "Excess pronation is a condition that affects 75 percent of the population and has been related to many conditions, such as heel pain (otherwise known as plantar fasciitis), knee pain, and even lower-back pain," says podiatrist Phillip Vasyli.
Not surprisingly, the higher and thinner the heel, the worse it is for your foot, says Sutera. “Pumps and stilettos are probably the worst,” she says, as are shoes with a heel higher than two inches. Another no-no? Wearing high heels too often and for too long. “It’s not recommended to wear heels for long periods of standing or walking, nor should you wear them every day,” explains Sutera.
Wear your heels around the house before a night out to get a feel for them. This is particularly helpful while breaking in a new pair of stilettos, as you can suss out where the shoes might rub. One way to deal with this is to put on thick socks with your shoes before a night out and blow dry the area where the shoes might rub for half a minute, which would help the shoe to expand and stretch. Another method is to fill plastic bags with water and place them in your shoes, then put them in a freeze. The ice will help stretch out the shoes, making those nasty rubbing blisters a thing of the past!
Shoe expert Dr Naomi Braithwaite of Nottingham Trent University revealed that a good fit and a little help from gel insoles can go a long way. She told HELLO!: "Gel insoles can be delightful on the soles of the feet, particularly if you are going to be wearing at an occasion when standing is on the agenda. Ultimately fit is key so it is important to have heels that fit well and that have a padding in between the inner sock and sole of the shoe."
Comfortable heels do exist, and I happen to own some of them. But every girl knows that some heels are not comfortable in any way, and we wear them only because they look amazing. Pain for the sake of beauty sucks. Why should you walk around in heels that pinch your feet and make your legs ache? Why should you feel like you’re about to fall over the second you stand up or take a step? Why should you spend an entire day longingly thinking of your slippers? There are things you can do to make heels comfier – and some of you need to start doing them, because going barefoot in public is not okay.
The more coverage you have on the top of your foot, the better. Sometimes high-heeled boots are actually something you can wear all day and they don’t bother your feet as much. In the summer, you can try something with an ankle strap or a big wide strap across the top. If you’re prone to blisters and friction, you might want to try that style, something that covers more of the top of your foot.
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.
High heels have the magical power to make women feel confident, sexy and stylish, but not without a price. From blisters and aching feet to easily soiled suede and seemingly impenetrable new pairs of shoes, we simply accept the side effects of wearing heels. And while it’s totally worth it (sometimes) we’re here to say you don’t have to suffer for style. These genius high heel hacks will sweep you off your sore feet and make wearing heels a breeze.
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.
Use a shoe stretching machine. If trying to break in your high heel shoes doesn’t seem to be working. Or if you simply don’t have the time try various DIY methods, stop by a shoe repair shop for a quick fix. Shoe repair shops have machines specifically built to stretch your shoes. The machine applies the same techniques as common home remedies –pressure and heat –to stretch your shoe quickly.
Do some foot exercises and stretching. These exercises will help your nerves get more flexible and take the next heel day attack better prepared. The stretches that you’ll want to do are the stretches that will target the front of the foot and ankle, like pointing your toes down and pulling your toes up with a strap to get the Achilles’ tendon and the calf muscles. And then side to side to get to the instep and the outside of the foot.
I’ve heard people argue that my new, near-daily ritual is ridiculous, that no shoe is worth that much pain or effort. But how different are heels from other small rituals we undertake every day, such as applying makeup? The payoff in terms of the confidence I feel when stomping down the street in a pair of killer heels is worth way more than the extra 30 seconds added to my morning routine.