The INSIDER Summary:
• Many high heels hacks don’t work.
• Buying inserts and choosing a chunkier heel will make your shoes more comfortable.
• We spoke to a podiatric surgeon to find out the only ways to actually make heels more comfortable.
As a New Yorker, I walk a lot. To get to and from the subway, I walk about two miles daily, if Google Maps is to be believed.
I also enjoy wearing heels, be they sky-high stilettos or chunky heeled booties. But combined with all that walking, those heels can take quite a toll on my feet.
A recent contributor article touted a “genius hack” that will let the user “wear high heels all day long.” The secret? Taping your third and fourth toes, from the big toes outwards, together.
Surprise, surprise — it didn’t work at all.
So I reached out to Dr. Hillary Brenner, a podiatric surgeon in New York City, to see if there were any high heels hacks that would make heels if not pain-free, at least less painful.
Here’s her best advice:
1. Wear an orthotic to help absorb the shock of walking
“I always suggest wearing a custom orthotic that is made specifically for high heels,” she said.
These orthotics — otherwise known as shoe inserts — will give you support and help your foot realign in the shoe. It will also help absorb the shock of contact with the ground when you’re walking.
If you’re looking for a style to fit your high heels, Dr. Brenner recommends a cobra orthotic that is an s-style shell designed for dress shoes.
2. Make sure the toe box bends upward
You shouldn’t buy a shoe that’s too stiff and won’t bend when you walk — it will make your gait feel unnatural and stilted.
“Make sure the toe box bends upward,” Dr. Brenner recommends when testing shoes. The toe box is the part of the shoe that rests on the floor and is where most of your weight will be.
She does caution that you don’t want it to be too flexible, however: “You don’t want to [be able to] bend the shoe in half.”
3. Choose a chunkier heel
Because they have more surface area in the heel, block, stacked, or chunkier heels will be more comfortable than a pointy stiletto. You’ll also have a lot more support and balance while walking around.
Essentially, Dr. Brenner said the wider and chunkier the heel, the more comfortable it would be.
4. Have a platform toe box
Having a slightly raised platform toe box will help make the shoes more comfortable because it helps with the height differential — your heels might still be six-inches tall, but if your foot is raised two inches off the ground, it will be slightly less painful.
The other benefit? “A platform style in the toe box will aide in more shock absorption,” Dr. Brenner explains.
Ultimately, no shoe is worth being in pain. Until some genius makes high heels painless, I’ll remember my mother’s advice and try not to buy shoes unless they’re immediately comfortable.
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