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.
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.
Back blisters are the bane of every heel-wearer’s existence. (It’s bad enough your toes are suffering, but your heels, too?) To help prevent friction—that causes the blisters—against your heels, rub a little lip balm to the back of your feet where the skin meets the shoes. This will form an extra layer that’ll help prevent any painful blisters from ruining your day.
Wet the insides of your high heel shoes to stretch them. Water can speed up the breaking in process by helping to mold the inside material of your shoes to your feet. Take a damp cloth and rub the insides of your high heels. Put them on while they’re still moist and wear them for an hour or more. You can also dampen a pair of socks and wear them with your high heels for the same amount of time.
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.
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.