Walking in high heels is like walking down a steep ramp with your foot pushed by gravity forward in your shoes and most of your weight borne by the balls of your feet. The longer you walk the wobblier your shoes get as your foot is displaced from its’ optimal position.
The steepness of the ramp - which is making walking difficult- is determined by the heel-toe drop, which is the difference in height between the underside of the heel of the foot and the underside of the ball of the foot. The heel-toe drop alters the orientation of your feet. You have two options, which are to stop walking in high heels or use high heel shoe inserts to help counter the negative impact of a steep ramp.
1. There are three common styles of high heel inserts that are functional:The simplest design is a Ball of Foot Cushion made from gel or foam with a porous surface or a textured surface that creates friction to stop forward foot slide. The ball of foot cushion also cushions the foot;
2. Another design is a patented Three Quarter Gel Insole that extends the flat surface area at the heel end of the shoe to include the arch. The wearers’ weight is borne by both the heel and by the arch. (Some gel insole designs also have a ball of foot cushion at the toe end of the insole);
3. A third design is a patented Two Part PORON Insert for Heelsthat keeps the heel of the foot at the heel end of the shoe, keeps the forefoot from sliding forward in the shoe and cushions the ball of the foot. The two parts work together to stabilize the foot in high heels making for a more natural gait.
To be effective all high heel inserts have to perform two functions well.
A. Provide cushioning to the ball of the foot
B. Stop the foot from moving out its’ optimal position inside the shoe.
The two functions are reinforced by each other because if the foot does not shift inside the shoe more of the weight of the wearer is borne by the heel area of the shoe, and less by the ball of the foot – this in turn makes the cushion under the ball of the foot feel more effective.
THE PROS & CONS OF ‘BALL OF FOOT’ INSERTS TO ADD COMFORT IN HEELS:
- One piece ball of foot insert is quick to put into shoes
- Gel inserts are cheap to make, and can be sold cheaply
- The glue is temporary so the inserts can be repositioned
- Fit is easy as one size fits the ball of foot width of most feet
- Placement is easy as the inserts have the same thickness all over, no need to position the centre of the cushion under the centre of the foot.
- There is some cushioning function
- There is some prevention of slipping of the foot by friction for porous foam inserts
- There is some prevention of slipping of the foot by friction or by feet sticking to a gel insert
- The friction of the flat porous foam material or the textured surface of gel inserts is not strong enough to prevent forward slipping of the foot
- The adhesion of inserts to shoes is weak, so the inserts come off easily or get displaced in the shoe
- The inserts shift under lateral pressure
- The one size PORON foam ball of foot inserts have lobed edges that drop off abruptly and dig into a wide foot
- The gel inserts become slippery when damp causing the foot to slide off
- Cushioning function of non PORON foam inserts disappears when the inserts flatten in use
- Gel inserts sticking and ripping off the foot for several hours can cause blisters
- The gel inserts are too hard to provide good ball of foot cushioning
THE PROS & CONS OF ‘THREE QUARTER GEL INSOLESTO ADD COMFORT IN HEELS:
. The one piece insole is placed against the back of the shoe heel, so it is easy to put it into shoes.
. The glue does not adhere strongly so the inserts can be repositioned
- Some gel insoles have a ball of foot cushion at the toe end
- The raised area in front of the heel under the arch keeps the heel in place and takes some weight off the ball of the foot
- Part of the weight is borne by the heel and arch of the foot, relieving some pressure off the ball of the foot
- The gel insoles come off easily and get displaced in the shoe
- The adhesion is too weak between the gel insole and the shoe to hold back the pressure of the foot on it.
- Bearing too much weight on the arch of the foot is painful for a foot with a low arch
- If the wearer has a high arch the gel insert does not touch the arch or bear any weight
- The ball of foot cushion that is included on some ¾ gel insoles) is not in the correct place for length of foot and is not adjustable
- The gel insoles become slippery when they get damp causing the foot to slide off
- The insole is bulky and forces the foot up out of the shoe which causes high heels to be extra wobbly or the shoe to fall off
- The insole is bulky and can cause the vamp of the shoe to be tight
- The insole shows under the heel, limiting the styles of shoes it can be worn with
- The insole under the heel is rounded and slippery causing falls off high heeled sandals or mules
- The gel insoles discolour over time into a mottled yellow colour
THE PROS & CONS OF TWO PART ‘PORON’ INSERTSTO ADD COMFORT IN HEELS:
- The inserts completely stop the foot from moving forward or sideways in heels, preventing all foot pain that originates in the forefoot and toes from the foot being pushed forward
- The inserts stop the heel of the foot from moving out of place preventing pain from heel chafing or rubbing
- The inserts stop the heel of the foot from moving sideways preventing pain from the foot falling off high heels
- The PORON ball of foot cushion is shock absorbing and will never ‘bottom out’
- The inserts are invisible when worn, so can be worn in the most open high heeled sandals
- The inserts are porous so they have some friction, plus they stay dry
- The inserts can be put in as temporary or permanent
- Temporary inserts can be changed to permanent at any time
- The temporarily adhered inserts can be moved from shoe to shoe or repositioned as necessary
- The front of heel insert keeps the heel in place and keeps the weight of the wearer over the heel. This takes some pressure and weight off the ball of the foot
- The medial and lateral toes are able to rest directly on the insole, preserving their natural functions of propulsion and balance.
- Walking gait in heels is more natural when the shoe is held firmly to the foot preventing wobbling
- The inserts are in two pieces and must be fitted exactly following instructions
- If the inserts are used with their temporary glue they may loosen during wear and need to be placed back into their proper positions
- The inserts are fragile outside the shoe, and must be handled with care to prevent rips
- After being attached permanently the inserts cannot be moved from shoe to shoe
- Removing permanent inserts may cause surface damage to an insole
PODIATRISTS & SHOE MANUFACTURERS AGREE ON PROPER FIT & INSERTS
Although podiatrists and high heel shoe manufacturers are at theoretically opposite ends of the spectrum in promoting the wearing of high heels, they both agree that high heels should always fit properly and that adding foam inserts can help with shoe comfort.
Podiatrists agree that most high heel pain issues (suffered by 71% of heel wearers) are exacerbated by ill fitting or too tight shoes. Pain from high heels may lead to chronic problems that do not disappear after heels are kicked off and aching feet soaked in cold water! These are serious issues.
Aside from not wearing heels at all, there are some healthier ways to wear high heels. High on this list are high heels that fit properly and inserts. Podiatrist Dr. Mercola says to, “Avoid shoes that cause your foot to slide forward, which puts extra pressure on your toes, and choose those with a toe box wide enough to wiggle your toes. Also, consider adding a…insert to heels you already own, which may act as a shock absorber and help to reduce some of the strain on your knees” …provide extra cushioning for the ball of your foot if you need it.
Stuart Weitzman, owner of Stuart Weitzman shoes, advises about buying shoes, “...if it is not comfortable when tried on, it should be put back in the box and returned to the shelf." He adds that shoes should never be altered to fit by stretching, “The only reliable alteration to a shoe that does not hold the foot properly is to add a foam pad filler.
The best compliment I got from a customer is that my inserts "do what they are supposed to do". This sounds like it would be the least of what should be expected of a product, but many products fail this elementary test! I claim that my shoe inserts "stop your feet from slipping forward in heels", and they do.