Viva Life Hacks: How To Make Your High Heels More Comfortable
10 top tips to make your most impractical heels comfier, just in time for your next soirée
I have a personal aversion to flat shoes.
I’m the woman you’ll find tottering around town in heeled boots during my morning commute, the party guest who interprets the ‘smart casual’ dress code as one that requires a strappy six-inch sandal, and my wardrobe is filled with more wedges than my husband knows about. #sorrynotsorry
But with my love of heels comes consequences — namely in the form of squashed up little toes, heel blisters and day-after foot pain that is a literal ball-ache.
So, in the interest of saving all our soles this party season, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling 10 heel hacks to have you partying until the wee hours — without winding up barefoot on the dance floor come 3am.
1. Measure Up
It sounds obvious, but if you’ve never had your feet properly measured, then how do you know what size shoe you should be splashing your cash on?
Before you throw down your plastic, ask to have your feet measured at your favourite footwear store. Like clothes, shoe sizes can vary depending on the brand. No matter what style you’re buying, there should be a little space between your longest toe and the end of the shoe to avoid your toes curling upwards.
But it isn’t just the length of your feet that need measuring, either; you need to account for your foot width. Wearing a shoe that’s the wrong width for your foot is just as bad — this can contribute to foot damage like bunions and hammertoes (when toes permanently fuse downwards in a claw shape).
2. Shop Smarter
Understanding the minutiae of your feet will help make shoe shopping easier — for example, if you have wider toes which can make pointed shoes pinch or ache. If it’s height you’re after, consider wearing a platform heel — they help alleviate pressure and share bodyweight with the ball area. Similarly, a chunky heel will also allow your weight to be more evenly distributed, meaning there’s less pressure on the front of your foot.
Go shoe shopping at night when you’re feet are already a little swollen — it’s the best time to check that shoes don’t crush, pinch or smash your toes. It may sound mundane, but choosing heels that offer additional padding in the in-sole, an all-over thicker sole, heels that aren’t needle-thin (sorry, stiletto devotees) and are a maximum of three-inches high will mean you’ll experience less heel hate later.
3. Break ‘Em In
If this heel hack hasn’t been drummed into you by now, then we feel sorry for you. You wouldn’t depart on a road trip without fuelling your car first, so why would you take your heels for a night on the tiles without checking they’ll last the distance?
Pop on a pair of thick socks and walk around your house in your new shoes for a few hours. This will help stretch our any areas that may be too tight on your feet. If you have more time up your sleeve, try this hack: fill a zip lock bag with water and place inside the shoe. Put the shoe in the freezer overnight and your shoe will stretch as the water freezes inside the bag and expands the shoe.
(Note: you may need to double check that the shoe is durable enough to withstand a chilly temp).
4. Save Your Sole
If you share the same tendencies as me to prioritise fashion over function, then opt for an in-sole cushion to absorb shock on the ball of your foot. As heels tend to distribute most of your bodyweight here, this is likely where you’ll experience pain first. Try Scholl’s Party Feet Gel Cushions — they’re virtually undetectable even in the strappiest heels.
5. Like It Rough
If your footwear store gives you the option of adhering a grips to the soles of your new shoes — take them up on it. These grips add traction to the bottom of your shoe, meaning you’re less likely to slip on the too-smooth soles. Otherwise, using a cheese grater to gently rough up the bottoms will achieve a similar effect (be mindful not to damage the soles, however).
6. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
If all else fails, pack some deodorant and chic plasters in your clutch as a quick fix. Apply a little deodorant to your heel and either side of your food to prevent friction (that can lead to blisters), while cutesy plasters will help cover up looming blisters and will make you appear less ‘fashion victim’ and more fashion forward.
7. Walk It Out
Believe it or not, the way you walk in running shoes is different to how you should walk in high heels. The correct posture and muscle engagement will help to minimise the impact on your feet, as well as avoid pain on your joints. Engage your abs and stand up straight, and walk heel-to-toe, using your hips and legs to propel forward. It should be more of a bounce than a regular stride — this is your time to channel your inner Beyoncé.
8. Tape Up Your Toes
It sounds gross, but this clever hack may be the one thing separating you from the party wallflowers at your NYE soiree. Using medical tape, strap your third and fourth toe together (counting your big toe as toe #1). According to foot experts, there’s a central nerve in between these two toes that contributes to foot pain, but stress on this nerve can be alleviated when supported by the other toe.
9. Break It Up
Don’t peak too early by putting your shoes on hours before the party starts. And once they’re on, try to take regular breaks — think in the car or when you’re seated at a table. Your toes will thank you for it later.
10.Soak It In
Offer tired tootsies some welcome relief by soaking them in a cold peppermint bath after arriving home. Follow this up by smoothing on a nourishing foot balm before jumping into bed. Try Lush’s Foot Soak and Fancy Free, which looks to lavender and chamomile to soothe tired feet, followed by The Body Shop’s Peppermint Cooling Foot Lotion to cool and refresh.