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.
She also suggests some products for pain relief, like foot alignment socks, Correct Toes, or other toe spacers when not wearing your heels. And, regular stretching and exercises can help, too. DeGrave notes a few simple exercises from Katy Bowman, and also suggests: "keep a half foam roller somewhere you might find yourself standing around for a few minutes, say in the bathroom while you brush your teeth, so you can calf stretch while going about your day — I keep one out on my living room floor and do this while watching tv!"
Stretch your feet before and after you put your shoes on/off. There are some targeted stretches that will help you get at the front of the foot and ankle (key pain points from heel usage). An example of a stretch like this is pointing your toes down, and pulling your toes up with a strap, this gets the Achilles’ tendon and the calf muscles going a bit. You can replicate this stretch to the inside and outside as well.
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.
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.
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.
Deodorant: According to Mashable, rubbing some deodorant on the back and sides of your feet can make new heels feel smooth as your armpits! The deodorant "eases the friction" between your skin and tough new material to prevent blisters. Speaking from experience, the most important thing here is to make sure the deodorant is dry before putting your shoes on.
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.
Ice Ice Baby: The key to stretching your heels to be slightly more comfortable is sitting right in your kitchen! By filling plastic bags with water, putting the bags inside your shoes, and placing the shoes in the freezer, the water will expand as it freezes and stretch out your heels. Just make sure there is no air left in the bags before you seal them tight. Seventeen suggests keeping the shoes in the freezer for 4 to 8 hours, and then "let them sit at room temperature until the ice thaws to a point where you can slip the bags out of your shoes."
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.
Despite the reigning popularity of sneakers and flats, high heels will always be around. And on occasions that do call for heels, you might as well maximize the comfort level in any way that you can. So if you’ve ever hobbled home after a long day or night in heels, this tip for how to make heels more comfortable is for you: Tape your third and fourth toes (counting from the big toe) together—we recommend nude medical tape for a low-profile look, but Scotch tape works in a pinch—to alleviate pain in the ball of your foot. Sound crazy? Here’s the reasoning: There’s a nerve that splits between those two toes, which causes pain when pressure is put on it (aka when you wear heels). The tape removes strain on the nerve, allowing you to dance the night away.