As Marilyn Monroe once said, “I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.” We can’t help but agree. After all, heels are great at dressing up an outfit. In addition, they help elongate your legs, making it possible for everyone to feel like a supermodel for a night. The 1950s “blonde bombshell” actress is famous for her sexy style, so it’s no wonder fashionable pairs of heels were a staple in her closet. However, being a fashion icon also means that Marilyn was quite familiar with just how uncomfortable a trendy pair of heels can be. Luckily, here at FootFitter we have the fix if you’re trying to figure out how to make heels more comfortable.
Style: Foot surgeons advise sticking to a height of two inches or less. Sky-high heels shift your foot forward, putting pressure on the ball of your foot—and more pressure equals more pain and chance of injury. I'll wear a little higher heel, but then I'll look for ones with a little platform in the toe-box to make the angle less steep. Styles with a T-strap or Mary Janes have the extra benefit of holding your foot in place.
"Wearing high heels changes the natural biomechanics of the foot which has been honed by thousands of years of walking," he explains. "We also walk on concrete all day every day, which is bad for your feet, leading to a cocktail recipe of stresses to overload joints, muscles and tendons which work together in complex clockwork action to form a normal step.
Recently I was at a friend’s birthday where a few of us were debating the plausibility of walking home in heels after a night of standing around. Now I love heels, high high heels. In fact the higher the better. I love the line they give the leg, I love how elegant they make me look…..what I’m having trouble with is how they feel. After years of taking ballet and wearing pointe shoes you’d think I could handle heels but lately anything fancier than a sneaker is causing me foot pain.
I read about this stuff in some magazine at the salon (O, inStyle, Vogue? not sure which) and since high heels are not my best friend, I decided to give it a try. First time I used it, I was totally dressed except for my shoes when I remembered it, so I sprayed it on through my hose. The menthol scent was a kind of strong at first but it went away after a couple minutes. It felt cool and kind of tingly. I waited a minute or so until it dried some then I put on my spike heels and went off to party. Pretty amazing-- nearly 4 hours later I wasn't in any pain even though I 'd been standing nearly the whole time. I used it again the next day for work and was able to stay in my heels all day--a record for me. I did have to touch it up after about 5 hours but then I was good for the rest of the day. It wasn't greasy and didn't stain my stockings or shoes. Good stuff!
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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.
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.
Check, and then double check the heel placement. Heels (the location at the back of your foot) are another all too common source of misery for heel wearers. So make sure that you get the fit inch perfect here. Choose shoes with heels centered directly under the middle of your foot’s heel (left), not at the very back of the shoe (right). This will help tremendously with your mechanics and it will reduce the chances of heel pain.
Sometimes you’ve got a real stubborn pair of heels that’s always so uncomfortable to wear (but so pretty to look at). We get it—they’re too gorgeous not to use, so this is where the freezer hack comes in handy. Fill a small zip bag with water and put it inside your heels. Then, keep everything in the freezer overnight. In the morning, put on your heels and wear them for a few hours—your shoes will stretch to the shape of your foot, so bye-bye to that pinchy feeling.
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."
A good local butcher is hard to find, but a cobbler? If you’re lucky enough to live close to one, make him your BFF now! “The rubber lifts and soles of high-heeled shoe styles get worn down with extended wear, making them uneven and uncomfortable,” Barry said. “Take your shoes to your local cobbler when this starts to happen to prevent damage — to you and your shoe!”
New York City-based podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera encourages women to wear “commuter shoes” so they’re not pounding the pavement in not-so-comfy soles all day. “Change into your heels at the event or party,” she advises. Try choosing strappy but sensible pumps like these that are appropriate for work, a dressed up brunch, or even happy hour. The versatile heel also comes with a cushioned footbed, so your feet can feel at ease at any type of event.
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.
Some of you are likely now saying, "Why don't you just wear flats?" Let me tell you, I wear sneakers whenever possible, but I also like to get dressed up and wear heels sometimes! The 2017 rules of feminism definitely say that women don't ever have to wear heels, so if they're not your thing, just go for flats. I know a lot of girls, and some guys who love to wear heels, though, even at the expense of comfort.
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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.