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.
Making sure that the leather is conditioned is one thing that you can do to help keep your shoes in tip-top shape. Canfield McNish also recommended making sure that all of your heels have non-slip pads attached to the bottom. You can buy these at shoe stores, online, at stores like Target and Walmart, or at your local cobbler. The pads help keep you avoid slipping, but they also help protect your shoes from premature wear.
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.
"Taking breaks at regular intervals is mandatory" Once, years ago, I attended a movie premier gala for the second "Sex in the City." Of course, high heels were required attire, and mine were very high! There were very few places to sit at the gala, and I must have stood in those heels for over two hours straight before going into the theater. The first order of business was to remove my shoes after finding my seat, and I spent the whole movie stretching my feet, as it says to do above. When the movie ended, I gathered my shoes from under my seat, feeling revived enough to make the two-block walk back to the car. But, hard as I tried, I could only get one of the shoes to go onto my swollen foot. Walking with one leg 5" longer than the other was not an option, so I made the trek barefooted. It was raining when I left the theater, and although I first met it with an "Oh, Sh*t," I quickly found that the puddles were welcomed finds along the way, as the cold water felt so good to my feet. ;-)
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.
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.
The No. 1 mistake women likely make is not having the right shoe size for their foot. Your foot size changes over the years, even as much as one full size, especially after having kids. Have your feet sized once a year, and do it if you’ve never had it done. Have your feet measured when you’re buying shoes, for width and for length as well. A lot of people think they’re a wide or vise versa and they’re not, so definitely do that before you shop.
Since water expands when it's frozen, you can use ice to stretch your shoes. All you have to do is fill two freezer bags with water, making sure to remove all the air from them before sealing. Place the bags in your shoes, then put them in the freezer. Leave them in there for 4 to 8 hours. Once the water has properly frozen, take your shoes out of the freezer and let them sit at room temperature until the ice thaws to a point where you can slip the bags out of your shoes. Voila! Your shoes should be nice and stretched for more comfy wearing.
She also suggested that going for a platform with your high heel, or a shorter heel, can drastically change your comfort levels, explaining: "Choose to wear a height that is manageable, this is pretty subjective, but having a less high heel or a platform sole can make a huge difference to comfort." Anisha agreed, and advised to "get platform shoes that also have a heel under the ball of the foot to reduce the gradient of the foot".
Keep silica gel packets in your shoes when they’re not being worn. Have you noticed after purchasing a pair of new shoes those little white packets containing tiny clear balls inside your shoe box? Those packets contain silica gel which absorb moisture and keep your shoes from shrinking. Hold on to those packets instead of throwing them away and stick them in your shoes when you’re not wearing them. You can ask a shoe store associate for extras, if necessary.