We’ve all been there. You walk into a store, not planning on buying a new pair of heels when, suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you spot a pair that you absolutely MUST purchase. Maybe you didn’t try them on and just checked for your size before buying, or maybe you were so caught up in the moment that you didn’t even notice they were pinching your toes ever so slightly. Whatever the reasoning, it’s a situation almost all of us have faced: a pair of heels that absolutely kill your feet. If you’ve recently found yourself in this situation, don’t worry. We’ve compiled a list of our favourite hacks to keep the shoes you already have from causing you any more pain, and some of our best tips for the next time you head out to purchase a pair of heels.
1) Stick them in the freezer
Yes, you read that correctly. While it may be odd in practice, this is the ultimate hack to breaking in your shoes without having to wear them. Of course we always strongly recommend you wear your new pair of heels around the house a few times before finally wearing them out, but if you need to break them quickly, this is our favourite tip. All you need to do is take some plastic Ziploc bags and stick them inside your shoes. Try your best to mold the bag to the shoe, and once they are in place, carefully fill them with water until it completely fills your heels. Be sure to seal the bag, and then stick your shoes in the freezer. What happens is that as the water freezes it expands (by 9%!), causing the shoe itself to stretch as well. Once the water is frozen, you can take your shoes out and let them thaw enough to wiggle the bag out of the shoes. If you can handle it, we recommend putting your shoes on immediately after removing the bags, as the warmth of your skin will help the shoes mold to your feet better. Your heels are now ready for that last-minute dinner party!
2) Prevent chafing from occurring
Nothing ruins our day (or a few days!) more than a pesky blister. While you can get them from wearing your old, broken-in shoes, they’re most common with brand new, never-before-worn shoes. To keep blisters at bay, we recommend buying a stick of gel deodorant and smearing some of it onto the interior wherever blisters are most common for you, like around the toes or heels. This prevents any friction against your skin because the deodorant keeps the shoe slick. It will also make your feet smell great! We also recommend keeping plasters on hand, or, putting some on before you even have any blisters to form an extra barrier between the shoe and your skin.
3) Invest in some gel pads
Sometimes, the cause of your heel problems stems from having to be on your toes all day. Unless you’re a professional ballerina, you’ve most likely suffered from some amount of pain in the balls of your feet while wearing a pair of heels. This can happen especially if the heels you have don’t provide any cushioning in that region. The way heels are designed, they redistribute your weight so that most of it is concentrated by your toes. With a flat shoe, the weight is distributed more evenly and the heel helps to keep the toes from being overloaded. While we can’t promise that your heels are ever going to be as comfortable as flats, not all hope is lost. The best thing to do is to choose shoes that have memory-foam incorporated into the insole. If they don't, we suggest buying some gel pads and sticking them down by the balls of your feet. This will help provide any extra needed cushioning and relieve your feet from some of that pressure. We also recommend insoles for more overall foot comfort if your pain isn’t centralised to the ball of your foot.
4) Tape your toes
Taping your toes together might not sound like it would make any difference, but don’t knock it until you try it! Buy some medical tape and tape your third and fourth toes together (counting out from the big toe). Try walking around in heels with one foot taped and one not, and you will be able to notice the difference! How does it work you ask? These toes have a tiny nerve between them that causes pain when pressure is applied and, you guessed it, wearing heels increases the pressure placed there. By taping your toes together, you are blocking off some access to that nerve, and also rebalancing the foot. Some people even claim to be able to keep the pain at bay for an extra hour or two before needing to slip their shoes off. While your feet will probably still hurt after an entire day of wearing heels, if you use this trick for a night out, you will be able to see a significant difference in comfort.
Now that you’ve been able to save your feet from the pair of heels currently giving you trouble, let’s talk about the ways to avoid having heel problems in the future. Here are our tips, tricks, and suggestions for the next time you head to the store.
This may go without saying, but wearing the correct shoe size is so important if your heels, or any shoe for that matter, are going to be comfortable. Even if that pair of cute stilettos are just a half size too small, those heels will result in discomfort and pain. And if they hurt so badly that you never want to wear them out, it’s better to just save your money altogether. If it’s been a while since you last had your foot sized up, we suggest getting it resized the next time you’re shoe shopping; the result may surprise you! In the case that one of your feet is bigger (this is actually the case for most of us), it’s best to always buy shoes in the bigger foot’s size to avoid any unnecessary pinching or blisters. Another thing to keep in mind is if you need to opt for a wide-fit shoe. Our survey of over 900 women in the UK found that 53% of women needed a wider fitting shoe. Having a shoe that’s wider will allow your foot to have the proper amount of space it needs not only in length but in width, leading to an overall more comfortable fit. Check out our selection of wide fitting shoes to find a pair today.
6) Shop at the proper hour
Apparently, there is an optimum time for trying on heels. As the day progresses, our blood circulation varies, meaning that our feet tend to swell by the end of the day. Therefore, it’s better to go shoe shopping later on in the day rather than first thing in the morning. If you buy them when your feet are their slimmest, you won’t be accounting for how they’ll feel later on when your feet may swell. If you go shopping later on however, the shoes will still fit just as fine in the morning and be comfortable to wear throughout the day. By shopping for shoes after 4 pm, you will help to account for the swelling.
7) Choosing the right pair
Those pencil-thin stilettos with the skinny strap around the ankle and paper-thin sole may be super trendy, but they are certainly not very comfortable. This is due to its design. When looking at the heel, it’s best to opt for one that’s chunkier. This helps to distribute your weight onto a wider surface area, as well as helping maintain balance, while a skinny heel is much more wobbly with a whole lot less surface area. Having a shorter heel will also help to maximize comfort, as the angle and position your foot is forced into are not as severe as with a taller heel. If you can’t sacrifice the height of your heel though, platform shoes are a great way to sneak some comfort without having to compromise; wearing a four-inch heel with a one-inch platform makes it feel like you’re actually wearing a three-inch heel. Another thing to keep in mind is the straps of your heel. Having a thicker strap around the ankle or one that wraps up the ankle helps to balance the foot, leading to greater stability and a more pain-free shoe.