Photo of Virve Georgeson, inventor of ergonomic permanent high heel shoe inserts
In the photo above, I have my high heel inserts in my high heel shoes and in what I call my 'inspiration boots', because these were the snug fitting boots with an almost 4 inch heel that I wanted to wear - but could not because they were SO uncomfortable - until I was inspired to invent a way to wear them. Like many inventors before , I thought, "there has to be a better way!"
I love wearing heels, and when I articled to be a lawyer in 2007 I bought a pair of high heeled boots in Toronto - these would later become my 'inspiration boots'. I was called to the bar in 2008. ( I invented my high heel inserts in June 2009) I wanted to wear high heels at my law office in comfort and in style. It was especially important to look professional when I appeared in Court but it was impossible for me to spend more than an hour in high heel pumps without my toes feeling crushed and the ball of my feet 'burning' in pain. On a Court day you never know how long you will be on your feet. You could be walking and standing for up to four hours at a stretch on hard stone floors. I have a narrow foot and my heel slips out of my shoe all the time. Pumps and high heeled sandals are bad, but the worst shoes are high heeled mules. My heel slips sideways and onto the floor - I haven't twisted and ankle yet, but there have been close calls.
I tried everything on the market to try to make high heels comfortable - foam high heel insoles and gel high heel insoles, gel ball of foot pads for high heels, foam pads with a fuzzy cover that promised to stop my foot from sliding forward, and even 3/4 high heel insoles with a gel bump that was supposed to be 'weight shifting' but instead dug into the underside of my foot and the slippery gel did nothing to keep my narrow foot from sliding forward. As backup first aid for my feet I stocked up on a good supply of bandages at all times!
On a narrow foot even a 2' heel is enough to make my foot slide forward and crush my toes. Despite my diligent efforts I could not find a suitable high heel cushioning product on the market that would do three things well: cushion my feet, stop forward slide of my feet, and fit into high heels without crowding! If insoles for high heels or inserts for high heels are gel and cushion the foot well they are usually too bulky - and if they were foam and small enough to fit into high heels they flatten out in no time. I found none at all that were effective in holding back the foot from sliding forward. No high heel shoe inserts or insoles addressed the problem of gravity pulling the foot inside heels down a steep ramp. the problem in heels is from the horizontal, PLUS THE VERTICAL. No one had ever addressed the vertical surface problem effectively. Not even the 'rocket scientists' who invented high heel insoles.
What was available to make high heels comfortable were insoles and foot cushions that cushioned the bottom of the foot at the heel or at the ball of the foot but did nothing to stop the foot from sliding down the ramp inside high heel shoes. The heel in high heels gets very little weight so cushioning the heel is not as necessary as cushioning the ball of the foot. Also any cushioning intended for under the ball of the foot had to stay put under the ball of the foot, and the foot had to stay put where the shoe designer intended it to be or there would be no benefit. A problem I found with a lot of inserts or insoles for high heels is that both they - and your foot - cannot fit into your heels together. It is pointless to claim to have the "most comfortable insoles for high heels", if you cannot fit them PLUS your feet into your heels. You also don't want to wear high heel inserts or insoles that show on all sides from under your foot.
The fact that none of the cushioning for high heels was designed to completely stop the forward and downward slide of a foot on the inclined ramp inside high heeled footwear was and is a major flaw in high heel insoles and inserts. This is like ignoring 50% of the problem in how to make heels comfortable to walk in!
I have narrow feet that get pushed into the front part of closed-toe high heeled footwear, and that slide right off the front of high heeled sandals. I could not avoid having 'toes overhang' or heel gaps, so I was determined to discover a way to make my high heels comfortable and enjoyable to wear. My high heeled boots, shown in the photo above, are the boots that inspired the ergonomic Killer Heels Comfort high heel inserts. The boots fit snug without any room to spare, therefore any inserts for them had to be small enough to fit inside without making the boots feel tight. The high heel inserts I designed for the boots are made from two small pieces of Poron™, polyurethane foam, that stops the foot from sliding forward inside any high heeled footwear.
The two insert pieces ( above) laid out following each other and with a gap in between them mimic the design of a footprint in the sand. The raised ridge at the front end of the forefoot insert is the shape and size of a crosswise oval mound that is pressed into this shape under the middle three toes in soft sand. The larger rounded part of the forefoot insert is where there is a deep depression in the sand made by the ball of the foot. It is seen in the footprint in the sand in deep shadow. (This is the area of the foot that gets the most pressure in high heels, which is why the ball of foot cushion has a 'button' in the middle for targeted extra cushioning. At the heel end of the footprint in the sand there is a deep depression made by the bare heel of a foot. In front of the heel depression the sand rises into a softly rounded mound in the area of the arch of the foot. The front of heel insert piece fits into this same area of arch under the foot. (Feet in high heels have relatively little pressure on the heel, therefore the area under the feel does not need cushioning. Any cushioning there will increase the steepness of the ramp, something that is best avoided.)
The high heel inserts are like weight-shifting insoles, however they not only shift weight to the heel end of the shoe and relieve pressure off the ball of the foot, they also keep the foot from sliding forward inside the shoe, and cushion the ball of the foot and front of the heel with the most springy crush resistant foam available called PORON, a polyurethane used extensively in sports shoes where a spring back and shock absorbing foam is necessary.
How my invention came about.
When trying on my 'killer heels boots' with a new outfit in the spring of 2009 I thought there had to be a way to prevent foot pain in high heels. I thought there must be something that I could put into the boots to stop my feet from sliding forward down the steep ramp inside the boots. It came to me in a flash of inspiration that if I put a ‘stopper’ inside the boots at the two places where the bottom of the foot has two natural spaces to fit them into and where there are protruding parts of the foot just in front of them, this would stop the foot from moving forward and ultimately make my heels comfortable.
I immediately made my first prototype high heel insert by cutting two insole shapes from the side of a cereal box and duct taping pieces of packing Styrofoam to them at two places. I placed the pair inside my boots. They were very lumpy underfoot but to my delight the physics worked! My foot was held firm and did not slide forward inside the boots, I could even comfortably wiggle my toes inside the boots. I knew I could restore the love between me and my heels. From that time onward I started to experiment with materials and shapes to come up with an optimally functioning high heel insert. Many prototypes later - after cutting up every type of insole, insert, and shoe padding for high heels and flats I could buy in stores, I came up with an insert material, Poron, that worked with my design. My living room floor was littered with cut up foam rubber, latex, natural rubber, fabric, and gel materials from insoles, inserts, heel cushions, toe cushions, arch cushions, and ball of foot cushions of every kind. I even cut up my old Neoprene wetsuit for materials.
My early prototypes were cut with scissors from foam rubber, neoprene foam, gel from cut up gel insoles, and or cut and shaped with scissors from sheet polyurethane. They were lumpy but even in their lumpiness they functioned better than any inserts or insoles for high heels that I could buy. I kept making prototypes and improving the inserts, paying particular attention to making the inserts as small as possible yet able to function to hold back hundreds of pounds of pressure exerted on the.
I product tested every day while working as a lawyer. I wore my prototypes in my own high heels and also asked women at my office and my friends to try them. Eventually I settled on using Poron™, a trademarked polyurethane used in runners, skates and sports shoes that need an energy absorbing springy insole material that never flattens. When the prototype insert was an optimally functioning object shape I whittled a model of that shape from basswood and sent it to my manufacturer in Chambly, Quebec. The inserts continue to be manufactured there. The high heel inserts were patent pending in 2013 and received a Canadian patent in 2015. Currently they are Patent Pending in USA, Europe and Hong Kong.
With my invention put into all my high heel shoes I have been able to wear all the high heels that I've had in my closet for years that I had problems wearing before. I put my inserts immediately into any new shoes I buy. Just knowing that I have a remedy to relieve painful feet has greatly expanded the styles of heels, height of heels and shoe fashions that I can wear with comfort. Shopping for high heel shoes is finally fun for me, rather than having to eliminate many shoes from even being tried on, I can now just pick my shoe size and try on everything that I want to in that size.
I have a personal history as an artist, designer and builder
For as long as I can remember, I have made things as an artist, a crafts person, a potter, a seamstress, a builder and a tinkerer. I grew up on a Northern Ontario farm in a refugee/immigrant family, where I learned to be resourceful and make with my own hands whatever I needed through inventing, designing, sculpting, painting, sewing, fabricating and building. After I left the farm I continued making things in between studying for a Hon. B.A. in psychology/ fine art studio, M.A in international development, Diploma in H.R. and L.LB in Law.
A note to my website visitors from Finland. My name, Virve, is a Finnish name. My mother was from Finland, and my father was from Estonia. I speak Finnish and if you email me in Finnish I will be able to read your letter.
I have had careers in International Development and Family Law. In 2007, as an articling student, I bought a pair of high heeled boots, because as a new lawyer I felt I needed a pair of ‘killer boots’ - however, wearing the boots for any more time than an hour would 'kill’ my feet. I loved the boots and wanted to wear them often, even if it meant suffering for fashion. I tried many tips and tricks and hacks for high heel shoes comfort, but could not remedy the situation.
I live in Ottawa, where I work mainly as an entrepreneur manufacturing Killer Heels Comfort inserts through my company Existingart Inc. After closing my own law practice I continue to work part time for other lawyers as a free lance legal assistant specializing in family law. I design, invent, paint, sculpt, deconstruct and construct my house, and spend time with my three children and seven grandchildren. My sports interests include kayaking, hiking, rockclimbing and cross country skiing.