Four high heel footwear styles from the “12 of the Craziest Shoes at Paris Fashion Week Spring ’19 ”, demonstrate common problems in high heels in these ‘crazy’ new styles. Solutions to the problems are below the photos, plus “The Real Reasons Women Wear Heels!”
1. Issue at top left: How to stop foot from sliding forward in open toe stiletto sandals with ankle ties;
2. Issue at top right: How to stabilize feet in rocker-sole high heel platform boots with chunky heels;
3. Issue at bottom left: How to keep straps comfortable & stabilize sandals with thigh high straps;
4. Issue at bottom right: How to stop ball of foot pain /toes crush in pointy-toe clear high heeled boots with clear plastic triangle heels
Before any issues of comfort in heels can be addressed the shoes must first fit well. Here is Stuart Weitzman’s advice on how to buy and wear high heels. Stuart Weitzman, a shoe designer who makes gorgeous shoes and knows high heels has said: "The only reliable alteration to a shoe that does not hold the foot properly is to add a foam pad filler," Weitzman advises. "But only if such filler does not make the shoe uncomfortably tight. If the heel is higher than the lady is used to wearing, it will most logically be a difficult adjustment for her; and of course, if it is not comfortable when tried on, it should be put back in the box and returned to the shelf." His further advice on shoe buying is “...If it’s tight, don’t assume it will stretch. And if it slips in the heel, assume it will always do that."
Mr Weitzman’s advice is sound. No high heel shoe can be made comfortable for wearing if it does not fit properly. Therefore the first step is to buy shoes that fit properly. The second step is to customize them with a foam pad filler.
The best foam pad fillers will cushion the foot without going flat, keep the foot from sliding forward and stabilize the foot inside the shoe. For the most comfortable and stable high heels your feet should never move away from the position they are in when you are standing still. The shifting of the foot forward in any shoe, but especially in high heels, causes or exacerbates ball of foot pain, crushed toes, pinched forefoot, blisters on heels, tired legs and feet, and difficulty walking in a natural gait. Here is what is likely to happen with each of the different styles of high heels and how to fix the potential problems in the 'crazy' heels so you can wear them with comfort. .
1. In high heel stiletto sandals (top left photo) as the foot moves forward more pressure is shifted off the heel onto the ball of the foot causing pain from excess pressure. The toes overhang the front of the shoe, and the heel gaps at the back. The position of the foot away from the heel end of the shoe destabilizes the shoe causing wobbling during walking. This is especially a problem in stiletto heels that don’t have much surface to balance on. The solution is contoured foam PORON cushions that rebound and continue to provide fresh cushioning under the ball of the foot with each step. The contoured toe grip keeps the foot from sliding forward. This action is enhanced by an arch area contoured cushion that keeps the heel in place.
2. In platform high heel boots (top right photo) the most obvious problem is the stiff thick sole of the boot that does not allow the foot to bend during walking. It is alleviated somewhat by the rocker sole. The boots have a thick sole and a high heel. This leads to instability of the foot because the centre of gravity of the foot is raised. The foot may also slide forward inside the boots causing more instability. If this happens the movement of the foot towards the front of the shoe destabilizes the shoe causing wobbling during walking. Movement of the foot forward also crushes the toes into the front of the toe box, plus increases pressure on the ball of the foot as the weight of the body shifts forward. Cushioning that provides a lot of comfort, yet takes up very little space, is needed under the ball of the foot. In closed toe boots it is important that the toes have wiggle room and are able to function to balance the foot and provide propulsion without interference. This helps to counteract some of the instability of platforms. A ball of foot cushion made from PORON foam is never slippery, never crushes, does not crowd the toes, does not cause side to side sway of the forefoot and never feels damp. Cushioning is necessary in all high heeled footwear however in platform boots it is crucial that the cushioning does not crowd the toes or interfere with the balance and propulsion functions of the toes. The normal functioning of the big toe and the little toe contributes to a less tiring walk and a more natural gait.
3. In high heel sandals with strapping that continues up to the thigh, (bottom left photo) as the foot moves forward inside the sandal the foot becomes more unstable. It wobbles from side to side plus it pulls down on the strapping causing it to move down the legs. This creates a continuing problem of a proper fit of the strapping which will tend to sag on the legs. If the strapping is tied too tight it will hurt the legs, however if the strapping is too loose it will sag. The solution for keeping the strapping in place on the full length of the legs is to prevent the sandals from moving about pulling on the strapping. The solution is contoured foam PORON cushions of one at the forefoot area of the sandal and one at the arch area in front of the heel of the foot. The two inserts keep the foot stabilized from side to side, plus keep the foot stabilized from moving forwards inside the shoe. A foot that does not move about inside the sandals does not pull on the strapping. The straps stay in place better and need less adjustments during wear. The forefoot cushion is contoured and textured to keep the foot from sliding forwards or sideways, and the heel of the foot is kept in place from both sideways and forward movement. High heel sandals like these Balmains look fashionable and not sloppy when the thigh high straps stay put.
4. In pointy-toe high heel plastic boots (top right photo) a major source of pain for the whole forefoot is the pointed toe. An additional problem is moisture condensing on the inside of the shoe which will cause the inside of the shoe to become wet. The thin insole of the boots will do little to protect the ball of the foot from pressure pain. However walking in these pointy toe boots is easy due to the flexibility of the sole of the boots and the enclosed foot. All pointy toe footwear must be bought in at least one half size larger than rounded toe footwear to accommodate the forefoot. Squeezing of the forefoot will cause pain from the sides as well as the bottom of the foot. The only way pointy toe high heel boots (or shoes) can be made more stable is with customized fit shoe inserts made from foam that keep the foot back from sliding into the point of the boot. It is important to keep the foot from sliding into the pointed part of the toe box for aesthetic reasons also as it is very unsightly to have pointed toe footwear covered in ‘toe bumps’. Toe bumps are the toes being bent and crushed into the sides and roof of the toe box. The forefoot and toes should have wiggle room of about a quarter inch of space on both sides of the forefoot. This means that there will usually be an empty ‘cone’ of space in the front end of the boot because no human foot is tapered to the shape of a pointy-toe boot such as the Balmain clear plastic boot. The clear plastic triangle heel is very high, which will be the cause of a lot of pressure on the ball of the foot. A thin rebounding cushion that is custom fitted is necessary because the area in the toe box is very limited. The cushioning must provide a lot of comfort from a very thin layer. The PORON contoured forefoot inserts are only 2mm in height but have a raised 4.5 mm bump of extra cushion in the middle. The bump is custom fitted directly under the head of the middle metatarsal where the most cushioning is needed. The space inside the toe box is very small so no excess cushioning can be put into it without causing crowding and pain to the forefoot.
Recommended cushioning for ‘crazy’ fashion high heels.
All four of the ‘crazy’ fashion high heel shoes and boots can be cushioned best with contoured PORON foam inserts with a ball of foot cushion with a toe grip and an arch piece to hold the heel.This type of cushioning will address all the issues.
PORON foam sets in two pieces are suitable for all styles, types of high heeled shoes with heels over 2”. Two piece high heel shoe inserts, such as those available from killerheelscomfort.com add stability to the whole shoe, keeps the heel in place inside the heel of the shoe decreasing pressure on the ball of the foot, plus cushion the ball of the foot. Custom fitted, temporary or permanent contoured foam inserts take up very little space, never crush, fit completely under the foot so they can be worn with strappy sandals, and are made out of soft foam that never feels hard or slippery underfoot even when damp.
It may be possible to cushion the Vivienne Westwood platform boot with gel insoles provided that the gel insoles fit exactly the height and shape of the arch and the length of foot so the ball of the foot cushion is under the ball of the foot. Unlike the contoured PORON cushioning, gel insoles cannot be customized for length or orienation. Gel insoles stick out from under the heel so they can only be used in closed shoes and boots. The platform boot is closed at the heel which may help to keep gel insoles in place and keep the heel of the foot from sliding sideways. The platform boot has rounded toes with more room inside the toe box which may accommodate a wider cushioning material.
The Real Reasons Women Wear Heels
High heel shoes are worn by most women for various reasons, but mostly to look good and make their outfits look good. High heels give the calf muscles a rounder contour making the lower leg shapely. Dresses and skirt suits are designed to look their best aesthetically when worn with high heels. Even the change in gait alone of women in high heels made study participants find heeled-females more attractive according to a psychology experiment.
An image consultant, personal stylist and confidence coach advocates heels for women because they make you strut and feel more feminine. She said, "When a woman walks in heels, fluid strut is required which forces women to move their hips!" That this action makes women more attractive to men is borne out in experiments within social settings where it was found out that men tend to pay more attention to women in heels than the very same women in flats.
Sometimes heels are a social office dress code for professional women who want to wear heels because they make professional women’s outfits fit better and look more fashionable. Women may also feel more persuasive and powerful in heels. Women in heels are taller, which evens out some of the height difference with men at the work place. Experiments have shown that taller seeming women were judged as “more intelligent, assertive, independent, and ambitious — not to mention richer and more successful — than their shorter versions.”
Fashion magazines and advertising encourages the social norm of wearing high heels to look more feminine. Women who are famous for their power are often photographed in heels perpetuating the desirability of heels for powerful women. Sometimes the wearing of high heels is encouraged by geographical location. In some place, notably Los Angeles, heels are considered the “style de rigueur, an entry point into a mutual admiration society”. Heels are the LA way to amp up a more casual look on the fly.
Health cautions against wearing heels and health benefits from wearing heels
There are reasonable health precautions against wearing high heels that are too high – over 3”- or for too long at a time – stop wearing heels when your feet start to hurt - or wearing heels that don’t fit well or don’t have sufficient cushioning. However there is a health benefit that women can get from wearing heels. Middle aged or older women who wear heels periodically have improved balance from wearing heels that transfers to having better overall body balance. Plus they get all the social and professional benefits too!
“The Real Reasons Women Wear Heels”, is condensed from: https://www.thelist.com/33317/real-reasons-women-wear-heels/?utm_campaign=clip
Stuart Weitzman quote from “FASHIONPOLICENg” “How Top Shoe Designers Think High Heels Should Be Worn For More Comfort”
When a customer wrote in an Amazon review that the ball of foot inserts I sold were "like magic" I was inspired to write a scientific explanation about the impact on foot comfort from using rebounding PORON foam shoe inserts. I answer the question of how do the inserts work? How can tiny 2.5" x 1/4 " pieces of foam hold back the full weight of a grown woman when her feet are on steep slanted ramps, AKA high heel shoes? And in addition to holding back the feet from sliding forwards the shoe inserts cushion the foot, make walking with a natural gait in heels possible, make legs less tired, keep slides on feet and stabilize high heels so they don't wobble!
Can slides be your perfect alternative to wear instead of high heels with holiday dresses? Pretty party slides seem like the perfect solution to wear for the holidays, esp if you can't wear heels or have high heel pain. They look so comfortable! But their dainty, pretty looks can be deceiving. It will not be the heel height that will cause trouble - it's their instability. Slides are shoes you can slide into and also slide out of backwards or slide off at the sides - even when you didn't intend to.
Even the most experienced high heel wearers - women who wear the most stylish coveted brands of heels fitted exclusively for them - can have problems with their shoes. Superstar Mariah Carey on an evening outing in Los Angeles can be seen with her feet slipping out of her high heel sandals. High heel wearers' everywhere can empathize with her. Problems with walking naturally in heels, feet slipping forwards and pain in various parts of the feet are common issues with high heel shoes. If you have these problems they will spoil the way you and your outfits look - nobody looks good hobbling in heels or grimacing in pain or with their toes hanging out - but worse is that improperly fitted high heels can cause injuries from falls or lead to chronic foot pain. There are rational steps you can take, and precautions you should follow, to make your high heel heels comfortable to walk in and your feet pain free and protected from injury.
Five tips for perfect fitting, no pain, high heels:
1. Buy shoes that fit. Buy high heels by matching the LENGTH of your foot in inches with a size chart, and then try on only those shoes and larger ones.
2. Outfit your high heels with contoured foam high heel inserts.
3. Try out your high heels for at least ten minutes of walking about in the shoe store to make sure you can walk easily in them.
4. If you are buying spike heeled shoes make sure the heel end of the shoe does not wobble about when you walk and the shoes feel balanced.
5. Avoid buying high heel shoes with heels over 3.5” unless you intend to mostly sit while wearing them, and you will not be walking or standing for longer than 20 minutes without a rest period.