Comfortable heels are so hard to find. As a short girl, that was one of my biggest complaints. Why? Because I can’t live without heels.
I love high heels, especially those stilettos with really thin and high tempering heels. Don’t you? They look so sexy and ultra feminine. My addiction for high heels only got worse, after I got into another addiction- binge watching Sex and the City. For any shoe lovers, Carrie Bradshaw‘s shoe closet was just pure heaven.
However, back to reality, I know I wouldn’t be able to run like Carrie in those 6 inch high pink Louboutins.
When I was planning my wedding, one of the first question that jumped out of my mind was not regarding my wedding gown, but about the shoes.
“How I can stand in my favorite stiletto all day, and dance all night?”
Sure enough, where there is a will, there is a way!
In today’s post, I have summarized the tips and hacks that have helped me over the years, and on my wedding day, and hope they can make your heels more comfortable for you.
Before we get into all that, let’s get some facts straight.
7 Tips to Make Heels Comfortable
There’s nothing sexier than a great pair of high heels—that is, if you can master walking in them. Why do they have to hurt so much to wear? And, it seems like the prettier they are, the harder they are to wear. The higher and thinner the heel, the worse it is for your foot.
According to a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), nearly half of all women wear high heels. The same APMA survey reports that 71 percent of us complain that our feet hurt in high heels — and the impact of wearing heels goes far beyond foot discomfort. High heel pain is a dilemma for every woman in today’s age, and comfortable heels are in high demand.
How high is considered high heels? According to high-fashion shoe websites like Jimmy Choo and Gucci, a “low heel” is considered less than 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters), while heels between 2.5 and 3.5 inches (6.4 and 8.9 cm) are considered “mid heels”, and anything over that is considered a “high heel”.
When we put our foot in a heel, the weight distribution gets shifted forward. Instead of your foot being planted flat on the ground like we’re intended to walk, the weight gets shifted to the ball of your foot. In order to compensate for that, the knees and hips jut forward and the back hyperextends to counterbalance.
That explains the pain and discomfort we feel if we wear high heels too long. Still, heels are part of our life that we cannot live without-in fact, a lot of us do still prefer to, or sometimes even have to, wear heels (think a hot date night). For some it is the extra height, and others, it is simply the sex appeal. Are there ways to reduce, or even eliminate, such pain?
I’m about to share with with you the top 7 tips to make high heels comfortable. Your feet will feel a lot better at the end of the night when you kick off your high heels.
I will save my number one to the last, so if you want to know what helped me the most on my wedding day, keep reading.
2. Make Sure you are Wearing the Right Size
Wearing the correct size shoe is the most basic foundation for you to feel more comfortable in your heels. Doesn’t this sound too obvious? You might be asking- who doesn’t know their size?
I’m sure you do know your size when you place the order, but did you know your shoe size can change?
There is a number of reasons why women’s shoe size might change over the life time.
Number one reason is weight gain or weight loss. My cousin recently was telling me she felt like all her shoes are starting to slip, after she lost 20 pounds. That is very typical. When you gain or lose weight, your feet change accordingly. So, if you have recently gone through dramatic weight fluctuation, makes sure you measure your shoe again professionally in a store and know your correct size.
Number two reason is child birth. Some women need a different shoe size after they give birth to a baby. I haven’t found the most scientific explanation for that yet, but I know that happens to some women.
Number three, as you age, your feet might change. My mother falls into this category, and her shoe size has grown from 36 to 37 over the years.
You see, all this are good reasons for you to remeasure your feet and make sure you are wearing the right size.
3. Use Band-Aid Blocks to Prevent Blisters
One type of pain we get from wearing heels is the terrible blisters. If you are like me, who almost always get blisters from new shoes, then the Band-aid block is really helpful. Just rub them on the sensitive spots before you put the new heels on. That will make you less prone to painful blisters.
Sometimes not just new shoes have this problem. If you don’t wear a pair of shoes too long, when you wear them again, they somehow will start to cause blisters again. Has that happened to you? It happens to me all the time. Every year when the season changes, and I start to wear the shoes I have put up for the last several months, they start to hurt again! In that case, I use Band-Aid again, otherwise I end up with bloody mess on my shoes as a result of the blisters.
4. Tape your Third and Forth Toes (Yes, I said that)
This is an very interesting tip. If you tape your third and forth toes (counting from the big toe) together with nude medical tape, that alleviate the pain in the ball of your feet.
Why? Because there’s actually a nerve there that contributes to foot pain. Stress on the nerve is alleviated when supported by the other toe.
Now, what if you are wearing peep toe shoes or sandals when your toes are mostly showing? I know, this trick may not work in that scenario, unless you don’t mind people noticing the tape.
However, if you are wearing pumps, regular heels or high heel boots, you should have no problem to try this trick and see for yourself if it helps reduce the pain.
5. Wear Wedges, Platforms and Block Heels
If you love heels, this is the easiest solution. Wedges and platforms are generally more comfortable than stilettos. Wedges provide more support for the arch of your foot, thus the weight is evenly distributed on your sole and reduce the pain on the balls of your feet. Platform is more comfortable by the same rationale- it provides cushioning to the balls of your feet and reduce the pressure there. Block heels, on the other hand, provides more support for your heel area and makes it more comfortable for you.
So, if you are going to an event and you need to be standing or dancing in high heels for hours, these are your best bet.
However, for my petite friends out there, you have to use precaution and make sure your shoes are not too bulky for you. While wedges, platforms and block heels provide more comfort and support for your feet, they do, on the other hand, add bulkiness.
I personally love wedges, because they are so much easier to walk in than stilettos. However, I have to admit they do run the risk of making your legs look shorter, if the wedge is too thick. If you need a pair of walkable wedges, go with those designed with thinner wedges (not necessarily lower) which will reduce some of that heaviness for your feet. Likewise, chunky heels are not flattering for petite feet. Because of the heavier heels, they add too much weight to your bottom half and make you look shorter.
So, between comfort and style, you should make a choice, ideally somewhere in between.
I have a whole blog post dedicated to this topic on the Best and Worst Shoes for Petite Women as well as Fashion Mistakes Every Petite Girls should Avoid.
6. Buy Heels with Gradual Slope
Everyone knows the height of the heels has something to do with how comfortable they are. Normally, the higher they are, the harder they are to wear for a long period of time or to walk in. Fewer people know that the slope matters too, and big time.
What is the slope? It is the incline of the heel. It can be measured by the distance between the heel and the sole. For instance, the shorter the distance, the more steep the heels are.
This is a key structure of the shoe that can determine how comfortable they are. The higher the incline of the heel, the less comfortable.
There is normally only a slight difference (like 0.2 inches) in terms of the distance of the heel and the sole, if you are comparing two pairs of shoes. However, that tiny difference is key in determining the comfort level of the heels.
This explains why some shoes are 5 inches plus, but you can still comfortably stand in them and even walk in them. However, there are heels that are only 3 inches, but you will find it impossible to wear them longer than 10 minutes.
Is it true that more expensive designers make more comfortable heels? That is a myth. I have found certain brands like Sole Society and Nine West do an excellent job with the arch of their heels and I have no problem wearing 4 inch heels all day. Meanwhile, I have tried on some top designer brands, when I had to immediately take them off as soon as I put them on. Now you know why- as soon as you put the heels on, your balls of feet are starting to experience the pressure on them, and they will tell you no, if they are experiencing discomfort right away.
If this is something new to you, you should definitely pay attention to the arch of the heels next time you go shopping. If you are trying them on in the store, you might be able to tell the arch difference with naked eye.
If you are shopping online, there is also a way to tell which incline is higher, if you open two browsers at the same time and compare them side by side.
7. Carry Foldable Flats with you
This one is wonderful hack for commuters who need to walk longer distance than those who primarily drive. My commute is 45 minutes from NJ to New York, which includes 25 minutes by train and 20 minutes of walking. Being 5’2″, I always would like to wear heels in the office/studio. However, I know it is not realistic for me to walk 20 minutes (and that’s just one way) in high heels!
Solution? I carry a pair of foldable flats in my bag. This is especially helpful in the summer time, because I can carry really light weighted flats and easily switch them on once I get to work.
I noticed a lot of girls are doing the same in New York city. They walk in flats or sneakers to their bus stop or train station, and they put on the high heels they store in the office drawers once they get to the office.
There is plenty of choices when it comes to foldable flats, and they are fairly inexpensive. You should have at least two pairs, one in beige and one in black. The beige is for summer time when you are mostly wearing lighter color clothing and you can wear them bare footed. The black is necessary for the winter time, when you are likely to wear darker color pants and jeans. Black also works well when you wear stockings in the winter with your skirts or dresses. They blend with your stockings and are fairly unnoticeable.
These Taryn Rose Edina ballet flats have been my favorites. I loved them so much that I went back to Nordstrom and bought a pair of beige and a pair of black! Nordstrom is already sold out, but I found them on Amazaon.
1. Use Silicone Inserts
Are you ready for my number one trick which helped me on my wedding day? These babies!
Silicone insert will hold your foot more steady in the shoe, thus your feet aren’t sliding forward as much. Why is that important?
To state the obvious, your weight is more distributed on the heels rather than the balls of your feet, thus relieving the pain in the ball of your feet.
Ask yourself, if you stand or walk a long period of time in stilettos, where does the pain always start? If your answer is the balls of your feet, then you are like the rest of us. That is sending you a signal there is too much pressure on the front of your shoes.
That is exactly why silicone inserts will be a huge relief- they provide so much support and cushion to the balls of your feet.
But that’s not it all. By not sliding forward too much, silicone inserts also protect you from frictions and blisters.
Got it? Now you understand why this is my number one rescue for make high heels more comfortable. I normally purchase one pair of silicone inserts for every pair of my heels higher than 3 inches. Amazon is my go to place, and my favorite brand is Dr. Scholl’s Stylish Step High Heel Relief Insoles. If use them often, they do wear out and lose their stickiness, which is telling you it is time for a replacement. This is
The inserts are handy in all seasons, and you can use them with sandals or boots. Because they are transparent, there is no way to tell you have them in your heels.
Chi is 5’2″ founder of Petite Dressing, an online petite clothing store dedicated to women under 5’4″. Petite Dressing blog is here to help you understand yourself, such as your petite body type, and look your best ever. If you are new, start here. Comment below and share your thoughts about this post!