The Good, The ‘Badly’ Obvious and The Ugly: Advice on how to make high heels comfortable from ‘Blogs Land’ couched in the form of Tips, Tricks, Hacks and Ways. This is my analysis of responses by 12 bloggers to the search question: “Why are high heels so uncomfortable?
“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” says Rika Nurrohmah in her 2014 Bustle article. Her article was one of twelve articles found in the first 120 articles reviewed that included one or more numbered items, plus one of these four words in the title: Tips, Tricks, Hacks or Ways.
Hopeful phrases abound in article titles/sub-titles from advice giving blog writers such as: “ I'm giving you the keys to the high heel kingdom”, “You can start wearing those great shoes again” or “ Wear Heels All Day Long”. Their advice ranges from excellent as in: “ 11 Tricks to Wearing High Heels Without Pain | CafeMom 2014, Cafe Mom Bloggers, to the totally bogus: “A hack for correcting painful high heels | Revelist 2016 by Alle Connell @helloalle
My analysis divides blogger advice into The Good, The ‘badly’ Obvious, and The Ugly, (as in follow this advice for ugly feet in your future). There are many good and helpful tips out there in ‘Blogs Land’ - but the good tips are often mixed in with the ugly with seemingly scant knowledge of anatomy, physics, or the scientific method. The outcome of a one-time experience or occurrence without controls, a rumour, or a piece of folklore may be blithely presented as genuine advice in Blogs Land.
Each line of text in the lists below is either from a unique number listed in a individual blog, or it is by a different blogger. You can see how many bloggers provide the same tip, trick, or hack by counting the repetitions, as for example 8 bloggers provide advice on how to stretch shoes, and 5 bloggers give advice on when it is the best time of day to shop for shoes.
THE GOOD advice is...about buying a shoe that fits properly, characteristics of best high heels, best designs & best materials
Buy shoes that are *actually* comfortable in the first place!
Know Your True Foot Width & Size
know how to buy shoes that will be comfortable for you by measuring your foot
Wear proper fitting high heels
Wear the right size shoe
Get your shoe size accurately measured
Know your foot type – high or low arch
Wear the right size...Feet have a tendency to swell when you're wearing shoes for an extended period of time (anticipate this when buying shoes)
Shop for heels in late afternoon
Shop at the end of the day when feet are at their largest
Buy shoes in the afternoon when feet are at their largest
Go shoe shopping at night
Check the heel placement Choose shoes with heels placed directly under the center of your foot's heel...not at the very back of the shoe
Pay close attention to the pitch or slope of the heel, choose a more gradual slope
(Know that ) a steeper ramp .. (creates )...more discomfort
Opt for shoes with leather insoles to keep foot from slipping
You need the pliability of leather (in high heel shoe soles) to allow your feet to move
Leather forms to the shape of your foot, so wearing it is basically the closest thing to customizable shoes
THE GOOD advice is...about styles of high heels that are most comfortable to wear
Square, Open, or Round Toe Shoes are better than pointy toed high heels that smash toes together and compact the ball of the foot
Pick a shape that affords optimal comfort like round toes and platform shoes
Avoid Pointy Toed Shoes
Don’t go for the pointed toe
Worst shoes are pointy toed heels
Try Platform Heels Shoes with a thick platform
Platform heels have a net lower heel, but look higher, & thicker soles add more cushioning
Opt instead for a platform
Get platforms instead of flat-soles.
Get Strappy - Heels are more comfortable to walk in... get a little extra support from straps
Shoes that are serious competition for wedges: heels with straps, ties or buckles.
Buy heels with ankle or vamp area straps.
Try a shoe with more coverage, straps,
Get heels with ties or straps
Opt for styles with buckles and straps
Opt For Ankle Straps
Wear A Thicker Heel
A chunky, square heel...more support and balance
Chunky heels are much more stable for balance in walking
Go Wedge Young lady "The bigger the heel, if it’s chunky or a wedge, seems to be better because the shoe has a wider base of stability. A skinnier heel and you’re more likely to have ankle spraining."
Wedges have long been known as the most comfortable kind of heels
The thicker the heel, the better
Consider a chunkier heel
Thicker heel for stability
THE GOOD advice is...to wear new shoes at home first to take care of any rubbing issues, potential blister areas or stiffness
Wear your new shoes around your house a few times
Break them in, no excuses (by wearing them at home first)
If.. shoes are brand new, it’s best to “test drive” them around the house
Test-drive high heels before the big day
THE GOOD advice is...customize your shoes inside to fit you better, roughen the soles for safer wear, add more flexibility to the sole and lower the heel
Add more cushioning...store-bought inserts can be your BFF...your dogs won't be barking as quick.
Customize and cushion your shoes, especially at the ball of foot
Over-the-counter inserts for high heels
Inserts designed specifically for heels
Add a little PORON padding to the balls of your feet to create a more comfortable stance
Add insoles into your high heels to maximize comfort
Buy removable inserts to walk down a comfier road
Using ball/toe inserts is essential to staying comfortable
(Use) metatarsal pads for a shock absorbing cushion
Ball of foot cushions in gel
Heel liners to keep shoe from rubbing at the back
(If you need them) add Arch Supporters
(If you need them) add Heel cushioning to prevent back pain
Use sand paper (on the soles) to prevent slipping
Score the bottoms of your shoes with scissor points to create grooves so you don’t slip
Sandpaper the Soles to prevent slipping
Scratch the bottom of your soles with sandpaper
Make your shoes a little more flexible, try bending them upwards and downwards a few times
(Have your cobbler) cut a piece off the shoes’ heel to lower it
THE GOOD advice is...pay attention to your foot needs to prevent skin issues
Moleskin for corn cushions and for all pressure points, and rub relief strip for rub areas.
Use Moleskin to prevent blisters
Moleskin for spots that rub
Fold up fabric and slip into the places (inside shoes) that might irritate you.
Prevent Corns, Calluses and blisters with moleskin,
Bandages - blisters are no match for these hero bandages
Use tape or band-aids and cotton balls (for potential sore spots) before you...go out
Use a rub on product to stop friction, Rub it on the sensitive spots of your foot before you put your shoes on to prevent blisters.
Use a Friction Preventing Stick
Prevent blisters by using lip balm.
Use deodorant as a glide for heels
THE GOOD advice is...take care of your feet before, during & after you wear heels
Pamper your feet with soaks, rubs, and lotions – remove calluses
If you have corns or bunions, you need to treat and remove them
Achilles Stretches, it’s important that you regularly stretch your feet
If you’re getting foot cramps and pain...check if you are...low on potassium
Don’t wear heels more than two days in a row,
Buy a wide variety of shoes and vary your footwear day to day
Take regular breaks for shoes. Don’t wear the same height heels more than two days in a row.
Keep Your Heel Height Below 3 Inches
Carry a pair of fast flats (don’t wear heels for too long)
Avoid wearing heels for a long period (3 hours max is suggested by podiatrist)
Try and set your (heels) limit to two inches
Use dry shampoo to keep your feet from getting sweaty.
When taking uncomfortable heels off ... put on shoes with a lower heel...then your flats
THE GOOD advice is...take care of your shoes
Live close to a cobbler (so you can take your heels there often)
Take Them (heels) To a Cobbler
Replace worn heel caps...to keep yourself safe
Go to a shoe repair shop. get the bottom( of your heels) reinforced so you don’t slip,
Replace the heel whenever the plastic cap gets even slightly worn down.
THE ‘ BADLY ‘OBVIOUS advice is.... take breaks, walk in heels as if you are not wearing flats, or follow the advice of one blogger and actually wear flats!
Take breaks, sit when you can
Take a seat every 20 minutes or so
Whenever and wherever you can, sit, sit, sit!
Kick your shoes off, stretch your feet
Change the way you walk
Walk heel first when in heels to keep yourself from falling
Lead with your thighs. Use your whole leg when walking in heels
Make sure when you take a step you straighten and extend your leg
Get a feel for where your weight falls in high heels, practice walking in new heels
THE UGLY advice ...encourages high heel wearers to do things that are useless, to do things that are potentially harmful to feet or to shoes, or to take up practices advised against by foot experts & to believe falsehoods
THE UGLY advice is....tape two toes together on each foot
Taping your third and fourth toes together stops high heels from hurting
Taping two of your third and fourth toes together CAN make heels a better experience.
(A women’s mag.) recommends taping your third and fourth toes to alleviate pain from wearing high heels
Tape your toes. Stress on the nerve is alleviated
Toe taping make heels comfortable
Why this advice is’ ugly’: Megan Willett wrote an article in response to “ A hack for correcting painful high heels | Revelist 2016, about her own experiment with taping her toes and wrote about it in: “ I tried the hack that’s supposed to let you wear high heels all day long pain-free — and it was completely bogus” email@example.com 2016. Ms Willett provides a quote from Hillary Brenner, a podiatric surgeon about taping toes together who said, “The only thing buddy splints (i.e. tapping toes together) help with are toe fractures, and if you have hammer toes that are rubbing on top of the shoes that would help decrease the friction and in turn make it less painful."
I recreated Ms. Willett’s experiment using my own very comfortable three year old 4.5 “ platform heels that have a net heel height of 3.5 inches. My platforms are comfortable enough to wear pain free for an 8 hour day at a law office (or for standing and walking for two hours continuously on my feet in Court) with two-piece PORON high heel inserts inside them. For my experiment I removed the PORON inserts from my shoes, and taped my third and fourth toes together on each foot and then walked 2.5 k (1.55 miles) on sidewalks for 40 minutes followed by 10 minutes in one store and an hour of walking and standing inside another store.
My experiment outcome was similar to that of Ms. Willett in that my feet hurt a lot. At the end of the two hours I had burning pain under the balls of my feet, plus some pain under the base of my big toes and in the big toe joints of both feet. I had more pain in my right foot than in my left. My toes on both sides were taped the same with two flexible regular size pink plastic bandages, with the cushions removed, on each foot. One bandage around each set of two toes was put on from the top, the other from the bottom to ensure a smooth surface. My toes were taped together snug but not tight. Taping my third and fourth toes on each foot did not alleviate pain from wearing high heels for two hours in a walk to the store and shopping. My taped toes experiment was a bust! Taping the third and fourth toes together does NOT prevent pain from developing while wearing high heels. The spreading of bad advice to tape your toes together to alleviate high heels pain is a disservice.
THE UGLY advice is....try to increase the size of your shoes with expanding ice
Fill a ziplock bag ...with water, place inside the shoe..put shoe into freezer...The water freezes and expands the shoe
If your heels are too tight, try stretching them out in the freezer
If your heels are a tad tight, stretch them out using ice.
Why this advice is’ ugly’: Following this advice is likely to be either useless or will ruin your shoes for future wear. I tried this experiment with the right shoe of a pair of patent leather closed toe and open back sling back high heels. I propped the shoe on its’ toe in my freezer so the water bag would stay inside the toe box which is the area I wanted to enlarge. The water froze in the zip lock bag into the exact shape of the toe box of the shoe, however all ice expansion was into the empty arch area in the middle of the shoe. When I compared the shoe subjected to freezing and the other control left shoe not subjected to freezing they were the same size. Freezing water inside a shoe may work to expand a shoe - or even rip it apart - if the entire area to be expanded can be closed off completely so the expanding ice has nowhere to go. A problem with trying to expand a patent leather shoe by freezing it is that the polyurethane acrylic becomes harder and less flexible the colder it gets and is very liable to break not stretch. Leather shoes may be easier to expand without ripping apart, however they are subject to water damage if the zip lock bag breaks.
THE UGLY advice is....a claim is made about chunkier heels that is not true
A chunkier heel will allow for your weight to be more evenly distributed, creating less pressure on the front of your foot
A thicker heel helps distribute your weight more evenly, so you’re not putting more stress on your feet
(The)thicker heel...relieves some pressure by distributing the weight of the foot more evenly
Why this advice is’ ugly’: It encourages a high heel wearer to follow advice that is not sound instead of searching for genuine solutions for making high heels comfortable.
I tried an experiment to determine if the bloggers statements are true by testing ball of foot pressure in similar height stiletto heels and chunky heels. There was no subjective difference in the pressure on the ball of the foot. This is obvious because according to Newton’s second law of gravity force equals mass times acceleration ( F=ma) and gravity which accelerates objects is at work in the high heel shoe. The pressure on the ball of the foot is a function of the force of gravity related to the height of the heel, not its’ thickness, therefore the pressure on the ball of the foot is the same for both shapes of heel - for the same mass of person - because the pitch of the ramp is the same. All other factors such as cushioning in the shoe, inserts in the shoe, or shape of the interior of the shoe where the heel of the foot rests must also be the same for a true comparison – a ceteris paribus situation. A chunkier heel has more area at the tip so it distributes weight over a larger area at point of contact with the ground (not inside the shoe) therefore it creates greater shoe stability and is more comfortable for walking for that reason, and not because it lessens the pressure on the ball of the foot inside the shoe.
THE UGLY advice is....if shoes are too small to fit your foot properly it is reasonable to try to stretch them.
Break in your new pair with a high heel shoe stretcher
Use Shoe Stretchers
Stretch out your shoes
Break in a New Pair of Shoes -wear your new shoes in the house with socks, and applying heat with a blow dryer
A blowdryer and a sock (worn on your foot in the shoe) can work wonders on shoes that are too tight and uncomfortable
Wear a wet sock inside the shoe and heat with blowdryer
Wear your new shoes around the house while wearing gym socks.
Blow Dry Them: for shoes that are a bit too small, and ,,,you can’t stand wearing them for a full day at work.
Why this advice is’ ugly’: New shoes should NEVER require overall stretching to increase their size. Overall stretching, even if it succeeds in increasing the shoe a half size, will distort the design of the shoe making it fit poorly and not as the designer intended it to fit. Also no shoe length can ever be added by stretching. Some very limited stretching of a specific spot can be done, such as to accommodate a bunion or other bump in a small area. This should be the only stretching of shoes that is attempted. Shoes that fit properly do not need any elaborate process to ‘break them in’. According to podiatrist Hillary Brenner, “If the shoes feel too tight, don't buy them. There is no such thing as a "break-in period." Breaking in shoes should be limited to road testing the shoes at home by walking about in perfecting fitting shoes in bare feet or stockings to ensure that there is no place that rubs or chafes the skin or where your stockings may snag. Shoes should be bought in a size that fits comfortably all over with about ½ inch space in front of the longest toe of the longest foot and be sufficiently flexible to allow for normal walking. Shoes should have sufficient space so that toes can wiggle about. Narrow tapered toe shoes should be a half size larger to accommodate the toes comfortably.
THE UGLY advice is....put in cushioning that covers the entire toe box or is under the heel
Put in full insoles with arch supports
Put in generic full shoe insoles
Put in gel insoles
Invest in pointe shoe pads (used in the toe of ballet shoes)
Why this advice is’ ugly’: High heels should fit close to the foot, snug but not tight. If they fit properly there is limited ‘real estate’ available under the foot. Putting in full insoles or anything else that runs from side to side will crowd the shoe’s toe box and make it less comfortable, not more so. If full or ¾ insoles go under the heel they will raise the heel and increase the pitch. If the insoles are gel it is worse, because they also add slipperiness under the heel possibly causing the foot to fall off an open heel. Adding these items into high heels is counterproductive for providing comfort. If high heel shoes are too big and need to have extra space filled up any inserts put into them should function to not only fill in the extra space but additionally keep the foot from sliding forward and must never crowd the toe box which tends to be narrow in all but the most rounded toe high heels. Full insoles with arch supports, full insoles, gel insoles or pointe shoe pads will not provide comfort without creating unwanted problems from crowding the toe box of the shoe or raising the centre of gravity of the foot making the shoe unstable or both.
List of websites from which the advice quoted in this article was obtained:
How To Wear High Heels Without Pain:8 Expert Tips (that really work) StyleCaster-2016
8 Ways to Make High Heel Shoes Comfortable - Bustle 2014 By Rika Nurrohmah
13 Tips That Will Help Take the Pain Out of Wearing High Heels 2017 by Lisa Fogarty
21 Ways to Make High Heels More Comfortable - stylefox 2017 by Desiree Rabuse,
18 Tips And Hacks On How To Make High Heels Comfortable | Gurl.com 2015
11 Tricks to Wearing High Heels Without Pain | CafeMom 2014 by cafe mom bloggers
10 High Heel Hacks Every Woman Should Know | slice.ca 2014
A hack for correcting painful high heels | Revelist 2016 by Alle Connell @helloalle
9 Hacks to Help You Wear Heels All Day Long | Brit + Co 2015 Samantha Tagher
5 Tips for Keeping Your Feet Comfortable in High Heels-DIY & Crafts 2013by Vanessa Goodpaster-Beaty
8 Tips For Dealing With Painful High Heels | Thought Catalog 2014 Kiley Potts
8 High Heel Tips From Fashion Week Pros | Glamour