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How to Wear Heels without Pain

by Staff Writer

Woman wearing high heels

For many women, heels present a conundrum: fashion or comfort? Although high heels are undeniably stylish and add flair to countless outfits, they can cause pain and possible injury. Take time when buying high heels and search for quality shoes. When wearing your heels, choose your steps carefully and take care to treat your feet well.

Painlessly Wearing Heels:

  1. Buy quality shoes. Cheap heels can be excruciating; when it comes to shoes, it always pays to invest in quality construction and materials. Look for a pair on which the heel is solidly attached to the center of the shoe backing. No matter the height, a well-made pair of heels should be stable. Consider also the quality of materials and look at the seams to be sure that they will not weaken. When in doubt, opt for established brands, so you can be certain that you are getting quality shoes.

  2. Choose heels you will be able to walk in. Be realistic about your level of comfort while wearing heels. Look for shoes in which you will be able to navigate sidewalk cracks, potholes and bumps. Will you be able to jump over a puddle without twisting your ankle in platform heels? If you have weak ankles, look for lower heels to avoid injury. Likewise, if you are new to heels or notoriously clumsy, choose lower or thicker heels until you can gauge your ability to walk in different styles. Avoid stiletto heels until you are comfortable wearing smaller heels. And once you have the heels, practice walking around in them at home, up and down stairs, and for short distances.

  3. Take a load off. To save your feet, remove them slightly from your heels when sitting down. Be careful not to take them off completely, or your feet can swell and cause you even more pain. Instead, slide your heel up and the ball of your foot back just enough to take off the pressure. This will provide some relief without allowing room for swelling. If you are sitting behind a desk or in an audience, this can be done unobtrusively. If you are sitting in front of people, bend your knees and cross your legs at the ankle before sliding your feet out of the heels.

  4. Buy gel insoles. Anticipating the need for comfortable heels, manufacturers of gel insoles have begun making products that fit heels. These insoles are narrower and shorter than those for other shoes, allowing them to be applied to the inside of heels without sticking out at the sides or either end. They generally use a mild adhesive to stick to the shoe and provide extra comfort and cushioning to protect your feet. Such insoles can be purchased for pumps or sandal-style heels.

  5. Try to walk less. When wearing platform heels or stiletto heels, the easiest option to save your feet from pain is to walk as little as possible. Take taxis, park closer to your office and sit as often as possible. If you preserve your feet for the times you really need to walk, you will appear more poised and graceful; there is nothing graceful about limping from heel pain. For times when you can't avoid extensive walking, carry moleskin with an adhesive side and apply it to the inside of your shoes on areas that rub. This will prevent blisters and increase the comfort of your heels. You might also consider bringing a pair of flats or flip-flops to relieve your feet at the end of a day or during downtime.

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