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.
When it comes to shopping for high-heeled shoes, comfort is key. But what do you do if you're not keen on the brands or styles that offer the best comfort? Or if that perfect pair of heels for your dress isn't exactly built with comfort in mind? These simple tips will help you customize or adjust your favorite pair of high heels so you can wear them without pain.
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.
According to New York City-based podiatrist Emily Splichal, it’s not only about the heel. It’s important how you treat your feet post-wear, too: “Focus on stiletto recovery after a day or night in heels,” Dr. Splichal says. She rolling feet on a golf ball, stretching the calves, and spreading the toes with products like Correct Toes or Yoga Toes. “Even the healthiest heels are still stressful to the foot and body, so recovery is one of the most important secrets to being able to wear heels pain-free.”
There's a nerve that splits between your third and fourth toes that causes pain when pressure is put on it. To relieve some of that stress on your poor little toes, tape your third and fourth toes together (your big toe is #1) with some medical tape or a band aid. Obviously, this trick only works with closed-toed shoes where your third and fourth toes aren't exposed.
According to Sutera, there are three key elements any body-healthy shoe should have. “In a sensible shoe, you need shock absorption, cushioning and arch support. When you’re not getting that on a regular basis, you’re either going to cause an injury or make something that you are susceptible to, such as a bunion or hammertoe, worse.” In addition, according to the APMA, any high-heel shoe should have a heel that is two inches or shorter to decrease strain on the body.
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.
"After my double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery last year, I have tried well over 20 different bras but they have all been uncomfortable and I have had to go into the restroom at dinner, a wedding, church service and an airplane to remove my bra. I love the Stickeebra -- they are comfortable, don't have wires that dig in and allow me to wear shorts that I haven't been able to wear since my surgeries. Thank you!!"
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.
When you walk, lead with your thighs, moving your entire leg forward at once. Think about it: You're probably used to letting your feet lead, right? It takes practice, but you'll find yourself putting less pressure on the ball of your foot this way. And remember: Move your legs from the hips and keep your legs straight. Bending knees looks goofy with heels.
Size and shape: When was the last time you had your foot measured? If you’ve had children/gained or lost weight/or just plain can’t remember, it’s time for a recheck. Too small and your foot doesn’t sit well in the arch. Too big and it slides forward. The best fit will nicely hug and support your arch, and it definitely shouldn't hurt. Also, opt for wider toe boxes for best comfort and less long-term injury.
It's amazing how much the shape of your shoe impacts the comfort. For instance, platforms (this kind, not the ones Elton John wore in the '70s) cut down the distance your heels are elevated above the balls of your feet. That means they're not as taxing on your arch, which is especially good when you're towering on at least three inches. A rounder toe box is also worlds more comfortable and better for your feet, because it allows your toes to lay flat. However, pointy toes are doable as long as the point stretches out instead of stopping right where your toes would rest.
Heels with a square, open, or round toe are going to be much more comfortable than a narrow, pointy toed heel. Pointy toed heels smash toes together and compact the ball of the foot making it much more likely that you’ll experience discomfort quicker. This is especially true if your feet are on the wider side. If you know you’ll be standing a lot, opt for a square, round, or open toe shoe.
Moleskin Madness: Before a big event or the first time your wearing those adorable new heels, pick up a pack of moleskin from the drug store and either line the straps and back of your shoe with the padding or put it right on your feet. Sadly, we can pretty much tell immediately after sliding the shoes on where they're going to rub us the wrong way. Before said blisters develop, put some moleskin on those areas to prevent painful and bloody bruises while you're out.
(All of these products can be purchased at a drugstore or any store specializing in dance.) Often, when I’m wearing heels the pressure on the balls of my feet is too much to handle and I get a horrible burning sensation if I walk in them for too long. Well problem solved, I just take a piece of Gel Moleskin and stick it to the bottom of my foot completely eliminating the friction!
Who doesn't like to put on a pair of dressy heels for an evening out. Unfortunately, I thought my days for wearing heels were over for good. Thankfully, a friend insisted I try Still Standing Spray and eventually gave in just to shut her up. What a surprise. I wore my favorite pair of heels to my cousin's wedding last week - and it worked. I had to respray after a few hours with mini size but didn't mind since my feet felt so much better.
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!"
You should always choose heels with thicker souls because that will ensure that you have enough ground to land your feet on. The ground will give you ample space to your feet and you will feel comfortable walking in them. Your legs can be hurt by thin soles because they put more pressure on your feet and dirt and other external agents can get into the legs and make your feet dirty and cracked.
Many women never get their shoe sizes right. Understand that over the years, your shoe size is likely to change due to various factors. If you have never had your feet sized, perhaps this is the right time to do so. Additionally, repeat this once annually or every time you are purchasing shoes. The measurements should include both width and length. Avoid buying shoes randomly without having your feet measured because different brands are differently designed.
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.