After a weekend of prom and graduation dresses, I can safely say I’m dreading wearing the heels that go with it. Not only do I struggle walking in them (yup, I still can’t walk in heels. Dancing? Got that down. Running? Check. But walking? It’s a whole new world), but they dig into my ankles. I know I can’t be the only one with this problem. Heels are just one of the many things with which I am in a complicated relationship. I love how cute they are, but is the pain really worth it? Even before reading this article my answer was “yes” –no shame, no shame– but now I’ve found out that heels can be comfortable (WHAT?!). There is literally no excuse to not wear heels… unless you can’t quite walk in them.
Iggy Azalea walked a mile in her Louboutins, but can you imagine what walking even a couple blocks in these would feel like afterward? It’s amazing that we willingly wear shoes that sometimes hurt so much, it takes an hour-long ice bath just to recover. And yet, it’s hard to ditch high heels completely: They elongate your legs, they make your calves look amazing, and there’s something empowering about the sound of your own feet clacking against a hard surface.
If you just can’t let go, here are eight tips for making the glory less painful:
Shave down your heel
If you’re willing to sacrifice a little height for the ability to walk through a room with ease, consider shaving down the heel. For around $15, a shoe repair shop like Steve Express Shoe Repair in New York City can simply cut off a portion of the spike. According to Steve, the owner, the maximum that’s usually removed is “around an inch.” Any more and you would feel the difference in the shoe’s arched construction.
Use gel insoles
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.
Change the way you walk
You don’t have to be a Next Top Model fan to know that when it comes to walking in heels, Tyra actually does know what she’s talking about. Perhaps that’s why she createdthis video. A few rules from Tyra: Realize you’re not on a casual stroll in sneakers and that posture is essential to adding flow to your stride. The correct way to walk in heels involves keeping your head and spine straight, as if you’re being pulled up by a string. As you walk, use your hips to shift and lift your legs to the center with each step you take. Your paces should look more like a light bounce than like you’re saving yourself from a fall. Since wearing your heels means your feet no longer form a 90 degree angle with your ankles, changing your gait will help you readjust your body’s center of gravity and find balance. You still won’t feel like you’re walking on clouds, but this method will at least make heels feel more bearable.
Take regular breaks
On its website, Leather Spa, a popular shoe repair shop in the heart of Manhattan, recommends not wearing heels more than two days in a row, with at least a day’s break in between. If you want to keep walking four inches off the ground, you’ve got to give your feet time to recover in between.
Get heels with ties or straps
Have you ever noticed how frustrating it is to deal with your feet slipping out of your heels the minute they leave the ground? Even worse, loose shoes often make you drag your feet in an attempt to prevent them from falling out. Heels with straps, ties, or buckles over the ankle or feet offer a solution. Go for adjustable straps to accommodate swelling.
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 andonline, 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.
Stretch out your shoes
Model Molly Sims recommends going half a size up when shopping for heels, and Franklin Polun, a Potomac, Md.-based podiatrist, advises going shoe shopping at the end of the daywhen your feet are swollen from activity. A little wiggle room can mean much more comfort.
When it comes to the too-tight heels you already own, you have a couple of options. You can either take them to a cobbler to have them stretched, or you can also invest in a shoe stretcher for heels (Footsmart sells them for $25 each), which also cuts down the time it take to break heels in when they’re brand new.
Pick a shape that affords optimal comfort
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.
**Cred to Rika Nurrohmah