Shoe Care & Comfort

How to Wear High Heels Comfortably (Without Pain)

Any woman knows that wearing heels for too long can cause foot pain. Your toes can feel cramped, or they can rub against the back of your feet, causing blisters. Heels usually come to a point, crunching your toes together. That can cause more damage than you might realize. Thankfully, there are ways to make high heels more comfortable to wear.

Some people suggest that you should follow a ‘breaking in’ period for heels. Unfortunately, that can take a long time, and your feet can become painful in the process. The sooner that your heels start to feel more comfortable, the better.

This guide will focus on how you can wear your favorite pair of high heels and still be comfortable. There are various tips and techniques that you can use to give yourself some relief. Some of these tips are meant for the shoes themselves, while others are intended for your feet.

What Causes Pain from High Heels?

There are many reasons why high heels cause pain. From the pointed toe box to selecting the wrong size, they can be a pain to wear.

Some of the most common reasons high heels can be uncomfortable include:

Keep reading to find out how you can deal with these common problems. With a few simple changes and additions to the shoes, you can wear them with comfort.

Foot Problems Caused by Wearing High Heels

High heels aren’t just uncomfortable. They can cause some serious foot problems and conditions for many women. Once these problems have developed, it becomes even harder to wear heels.

It can become hard to wear any shoe. Sometimes, it even becomes difficult to walk! Finding ways to add comfort to your heels not only will provide you with relief, but can ward off some of these problems, too.

Some of the most common problems include:

  • Bunions – They may look like abnormal bone growths, but they’re not. Instead, they are caused by the alignment of the big toe joint is off. Not only can this be caused by wearing high heels that cramp the toes, but heels can make an existing bunion worse. When you wear heels, the rest of your toes are pushing right up against the bone of the bunion. That can cause a lot of pain directly in that particular spot.
  • Heel bone issues – This is sometimes known as ‘pump bump,’ but despite the funny name, it can be a severe condition. Many times, the heel of your foot will rub against the back of a high heel shoe. This creates a lot of friction. At first, that friction can cause irritating things like blisters. Over time, though, it can make the back of your heel bone more prominent. This continues to cause problems because the larger your heel bone is, the easier it is for shoes to rub against it and cause pain.
  • Hammer toe – Because high heels are often pointed at the toe box, it can create problems for the cramped toes inside. One of the most common issues is referred to as hammer toe(s). Hammer toes form when the joints of the toes come out of alignment. As you might expect, this is painful enough on its own. But, it can cause a lot of extra friction, too.

Some other common foot problems that can be caused by high heels include corns, blisters, swelling, and even redness. With all these potential problems, it’s no wonder so many women are constantly seeking out ways to fight more comfort when wearing heels.

Can High Heels Cause Toenail Fungus?

Another potential risk of wearing high heels is toenail fungus. Toenail fungus multiplies in moist environments. When your toes are crammed into a pair of heels, it creates the perfect atmosphere for a fungal infection.

If you’re prone to having sweaty feet and your feet slide around within your high heels, it could make matters even worse.

Finally, toenail fungus can be triggered by repeated trauma to the toe. If your shoes are too tight or the toe box is too narrow, you could be banging your toes against the inside of it each day.

Some common symptoms of toenail fungus include:

  • Bad smell
  • Discoloration
  • Brittle nails
  • Thick nails

If you notice any of these symptoms underneath or on your toenails, it’s important to start an antifungal treatment right away. You should also spray or sprinkle your shoes with an antifungal foot spray or foot powder.

A toenail fungus won’t go away on its own, so not wearing the shoes anymore won’t necessarily help. But, it is a good idea to alternate which shoes you wear each day. That will give the shoes a chance to air out and make it harder for the fungus to continue to grow and thrive inside them.

Why Do My Feet Burn When I Wear Heels?

One of the problems listed above is metatarsalgia.

It’s a common foot problem characterized by pain or a burning sensation on the ball of the feet. Think about how your feet are placed when you’re wearing high heels. A lot of pressure and weight ends up falling on the ball of your foot. Your body weight is significantly shifted forward, toward that part of the foot. The excess pressure ends up causing more friction. As a result, your feet can end up feeling hot, itchy, and like they’re burning.

Things, like running, walking long distances or standing on your feet all day, can also cause this problem. But, it’s commonly found in women who wear heels frequently.

Other symptoms besides a burning sensation include:

  • Pain in the toes
  • Painful to walk barefoot
  • Feeling of a rock/pebble in the shoe
  • Instant pain when putting on shoes

One of the best ways to combat this problem is with silicone metatarsal pads for high heels. These pads are designed to relieve pain in the balls of your feet. Most are easily-removable and can be cleaned so you can use them in different pairs of shoes.

The main benefit to these pads is not just that they provide a cushion, but they will help to take some of the pressure off the ball of your foot. They will prevent your weight from shifting forward. More even weight distribution in your shoes will bring more comfort. You should notice that the burning sensation goes away quickly when using inserts like these.

What Are the Most Comfortable Insoles for High Heels?

When metatarsal pads aren’t enough, people look for inserts that will help them find comfort. The most commonly-used inserts today are gel inserts that combine fashion and functionality.

The best inserts for high heels should have a few distinct characteristics. First, they should prevent sliding. Inserts with texture and grip will prevent your feet from moving too much inside the shoes. This will reduce friction and can prevent you from feeling a burning sensation or getting blisters.

Inserts should also cover the entire length of your foot if you regularly experience pain. Extra features to look for include:

  • Easy to remove
  • Washable
  • Meant for all-day wear
  • Arch support
  • Shock absorption

We think one of the best inserts for high heels is Powerstep Pinnacle Shoe Insoles. They offer professional-grade support for almost any type of shoe. But, when it comes to high heels, they are especially great for heels.

balls of feet hurt after wearing heels

What’s so great about the Powerstep Pinnacle Shoe Insoles? Check out some of the key features:

  • Maximum-cushioning technology
  • Semi-rigid arch support
  • Anti-microbial top fabric
  • Foot pain prevention
  • Great for all foot types

The Powerstep insoles are recommended by podiatrists to provide comfort and cushioning to your feet. Whether you’re already experiencing pain from your high heels or not, you’ll undoubtedly notice a difference when using these inserts.

Should You Tape Toes to Wear Heels?

One somewhat common practice is to tape your toes together when wearing high heels. It’s become more popular because it’s inexpensive and easy to do. It’s been referred to as a ‘high heel hack‘ by women who say it gets rid of their pain all day.

To tape your toes for high heels, you use medical tape. Then, you tape together your third and fourth toes (count from the big toe out). This simple and quick trick is said to provide hours of comfort and relief. But, does it actually work?

The pain usually associated with high heels comes from too much pressure. This pressure can cause discomfort on your nerves and bones. Taping your toes together can keep a certain nerve from becoming irritated if your feet become inflamed when wearing heels. It’s often this specific nerve between the third and fourth toes that causes so much discomfort. By taping the toes, you release that pressure, and your toes don’t have a chance to spread apart. So, they don’t hurt as badly.

So, does taping your toes together actually work? It can work for many people. It doesn’t hurt to give it a try and see if it provides you with relief.

Keep in mind, though, that this shouldn’t be a permanent solution. It’s okay to tape your toes to find relief from pain daily. But, it should only be temporary as you find shoes that fit correctly without making your feet hurt. Even if you don’t feel the pain in your toes, it doesn’t mean the heels aren’t cramming your toes together or causing unnecessary friction.

How to Get Used to High Heels

Getting used to wearing high heels is important and can help you find more comfort when you slip them on. It’s not as simple as slipping on a pair of heels and going about your day.

By taking precautionary steps, you can make the experience more comfortable one:

  1. Don’t wear high heels every day. This falls under the old myth of having to ‘break in’ new shoes. For many women, wearing high heels for a 14-hour day can make matters worse, and you likely won’t be breaking them in enough to make a noticeable difference. Bring a pair of more comfortable shoes with you wherever you go. If your heels start to hurt, switch to the other shoes.
  2. Change the way you walk. You may have to change some things about your stride to get used to high heels. For starters, it’s better to walk heel-to-toe in pumps. When you’re wearing flats or sneakers, it’s natural to put your whole foot down at once. When you take steps like that in heels, it could feel awkward and unnatural. Continuing to walk like that could cause tension in your arches and add extra pressure to your feet. You should also try to take smaller steps when you’re wearing heels. It will help your stride seem more natural and comfortable.
  3. Lean back toward your heels when you walk. It’s natural to want to ‘push forward’ when you’re wearing high heels. Your toes naturally gravitate to the point of the toe box. But, that can lead to excess pressure on the ball of your foot. Try to focus on putting most of your weight on your heels. Not only will it be more comfortable, but you’ll improve your posture when walking.
  4. Stretch your feet. When you’re not wearing your heels, be sure to stretch out your feet. Point your toes downward and give your Achilles’ tendon a good stretch. Focus on exercises that stretch out your arches, toes, and ankles.

How to Pick the Perfect Pair of Heels

Feeling more comfortable in high heels starts with picking the right pair. It isn’t just about how they look. High heels need to be more than a fashion statement for them to be bearable enough to wear each day.

Follow these tips to start with the best pair of heels so that you can avoid so much pain and irritation later:

  • Know your size: You might think you know your shoe size, but unless you’re 100% sure, your high heels might feel too tight. It’s a good idea to get your feet measured by a professional in the shoe store. That way, you’ll be certain of your size. That’s a great starting point for buying a pair of heels. Keep in mind that the size of your feet can vary throughout the day. It’s best to go shoe shopping in the evening. There’s a good chance your feet will be a little swollen by the end of the day so that you can judge your size based on that. If you get your feet measured in the morning, your feet might be a little smaller. That can cause the shoes to become uncomfortable throughout the day.
  • Choose the right heels: Not all high heels are created equally. It’s best to ask a sales associate about different types of heels. Investing in a good pair is usually better than choosing an inexpensive pair. High heels are something to invest in, for the general health and comfort of your feet. You might have to spend a bit more money to get ‘good’ shoes, but your feet will thank you in the end!
  • Avoid thin soles: High heels with thin soles can wear out easier. They will also cause discomfort and friction much faster as you wear them. A thicker sole will have more shock absorption. It will also give you more cushion as you walk without having to use an insert.
  • Know your foot type: Knowing the type of foot you have is slightly different than understanding your shoe size. Some people have high arches. Some people have wide feet. The shoes you choose should work according to your foot type. A podiatrist can give you some answers about your feet. Or, you can try a neat trick at home. Make sure your foot is wet, and then step onto a piece of construction paper. Pull your foot away, and you’ll see the image of your foot type on the paper. It will let you know where the most pressure is hitting, and the height of your arches.

Why do my feet burn when I wear heels?

How Can I Make High Heels More Comfortable?

If you have a pair of heels that you love, but they seem to kill your feet, not all hope is lost. There are still some things you can do to make an uncomfortable pair of high heels feel better. Even if they aren’t the perfect size, you don’t have to deal with foot issues or pain all the time when you wear them.

One of the best things you can do is try to get the shoe to conform more to your foot. Many people suggest you need to ‘break in’ your high heels. There’s a good reason for that, but most people go about it the wrong way. Breaking in your high heels doesn’t mean you have to wear them for hours each day. You can do it quickly with the help of a few simple resources.

First, you can try a shoe stretching liquid like Kiwi Select Universal Shoe Stretch. A shoe stretching liquid can give you just a little more space in your shoes. When it comes to high heels, that extra space can mean a world of difference for your comfort levels. Plus, there is no need to spend hours breaking in your shoes.

When you use a shoe stretching liquid, you can slip on the shoes, and they will conform to your feet quickly. You can also use a shoe stretching device overnight. The great thing about these devices is they have things like bunion plugs. They can give you a bit of extra room where you need it most. That makes it easy to avoid some of the common foot problems caused by high heels.

There are also many DIY methods for stretching out your shoes safely. Some popular solutions include stuffing newspaper into the shoes or sticking bags of water into the toe boxes and putting them in the freezer to expand. Whichever option you choose, keep in mind how much your shoes might stretch. It’s unlikely they’ll go up a whole size. But, they can give you enough room to be more of a ‘perfect’ fit.

Can High Heels Cause Damage to Your Feet?

High heels are a prominent fashion choice for many women. There is no reason you need to stop wearing them completely. But, they shouldn’t always be your first choice when it comes to footwear. Give your feet a bit of relief by switching it up with flats, or sneakers.

When you do want to wear heels, follow the instructions and tips listed in this guide. When you know what you’re looking for in a good high heel shoe, you’ll already be starting out on the ‘right foot,’ so to speak! If you find that your heels cause discomfort, now you know what you can do to find relief.

The best thing you can do is to choose the right shoe size and invest in a quality pair of shoes. Then, you can use some of the resources listed here to wear your shoes comfortably for longer periods of time, without risking damage to your feet.