Recently I helped a lady go high heel shopping. Her only good black high heel shoes no longer fit properly, were gauged at the back of the heels and hurt her toes when she wore them. She and her husband run a beef farm, so her usual footwear is either barn boots or runners. However she does like to dress up in heels to go out with her husband to rural functions or family events at the local community hall or at a hotel in the city .
When she asked me for help in shopping for high heels I was delighted to accompany her to assist in whatever way I could at a favourite activity of mine. I knew there would be challenges because she wanted a very specific shoe - ideally exactly like her old shoes if possible, which she had bought 20 years ago. The heel cannot be any higher than 3 inches, and not be a kitten heel or a block heel. The shoe had to look light and graceful as it would be worn with skirts and dresses. She wanted black heels - which would be reasonably easy to find - however finding them in her size of 12 wide would be much harder especially since we were shopping in person. She could not even imagine how a person could shop for shoes on line!
We were shopping in a small Canadian city of less than 100,000 in Northern Ontario that had only one mall, and in that mall there were only four shoe stores that carried heels. We hit all of them! We were specifically looking for Clarks , Naturalizers or Nine West as these shoe brands have shoes in large sizes and the shoes are stylish and comfortable.
After trying on all the size 12s we could find - in many types of footwear from flats to boots in three shoe stores - she ended up buying a great pair of black Clarks ankle boots for fall with a one inch heel and thick bottoms. Inspired by finding one good looking footwear in a size that fit well we pressed on to the last shoe store at the other end of the mall which was "Payless". I did not have much hope that we would find a comfortable high heel in her size there , but what do you know! The first pair of black heels we saw that looked like they would be suitable was a pair of wedges. And miracles - they were size 12 wide! She tried them on and they fit perfectly, looked nice on her feet and were comfortable to walk in too. The cushioning in them is a thin layer of memory foam, which feels cushy and nice when it's new but bottoms out very quickly into a hard pressed sheet. Memory foam in high heels will flatten after only a few wearings due to the pressure and heat provided by the feet. It does not provide any spring back cushioning, does not prevent the foot from sliding forward and therefore even medium height heels may begin to hurt after only a few hours of wear.
The shoes fit well with wiggle room for the toes in the rounded toe box and were not too high at 2.5 inches for a woman who does not wear heels often, and is quite tall at 5 '10".
I was able to tell her that adding a ball of foot pad with toe grips would stabilize the foot in the shoe to prevent heel gaps and sore toes. It would be the perfect addition to ensure that even shoes with only a thin memory foam insole would be comfortable to wear for a long time. Since the shoes were only 2.5 " and had a closed heel the forefoot inserts by themselves would be able to keep the foot in place inside the shoe and stop the toes from crushing into the toe box.
When she got home she put ball of foot inserts into the wedge heels. The shoes that up to then felt good, but not great , suddenly felt way more stable to walk in for a non-high-heel wearing-person (which for her was a big plus), and she said they felt way more cushiony with springiness at every step. She told me she really appreciated the way they felt as she walked from the kitchen into the dining room and back again.
You can see in the accompanying photo how the inserts are fitted into shoes. The ball of foot inserts with a toe grip are excellent for high heel shoes that are around 2 inches in height. High heels with a heel that is over 3 inches (or lower heeled shoes that are open at the back like slingbacks or mules), should be outfitted with two part high heel inserts that have a forefoot piece with a toe grip and cushion under the ball of the foot - like the ball of foot inserts - and a second section that fits in front of the heel to keep the heel in place and helps to shift weight off the ball of the foot plus keeps the heel from moving sideways in an open heel shoe such as a mule or slingbacks.
Video of how to make your high heel boots comfortable. No pinching of toes, no cold toes, cushioned under the ball of the foot, and no heel rubbing. High heel boots are stabilized and cushioned for comfortable walking. See the video by copying and pasting this link