High heels are exciting in that they have a deep history. As a staple of most formal wardrobes, they can be both beneficial and harmful for the feet. By knowing how to wear heels appropriately, the feet can be protected and look stylish at the same time.
There are over 25 different types of heels for a variety of styles. Some are shorter than others, while some styles have supportive features, such as ankle straps.
Interestingly, the beginning of the popularity of this type of footwear started well before women wore them.
The History of Heels
Heels were initially developed for warriors for horse riding so that they could hold onto saddles easily. Initially, they weren’t designed as a dress-up option for women but as a functional workwear piece.
Over time, the popularity of these shoes became so significant that kings and powerful men began wearing them, as well. It wasn’t until the 16th century that there’s documented evidence of women wearing heels. Catherine de Medici was the first, and she wore them to be taller for her wedding. Since then, heels have developed significantly to offer several styles from various high-end designers.
How To Measure High Heels
There are two critical types of measurements to consider when sizing heels.
First, they have to fit the feet, which is similar to sizing any other shoe type. However, some heels require the wearer to size down by half a size or a full size depending on fit.
It’s always best to try on heels before settling on a pair, as closed-toe styles might fit differently than open-toe.
Another measurement to consider is their height. Often, heels will be advertised as having a particular size heel, which can be misleading. The heel’s size is typically from where the heel of the shoe touches the ground to the seam at the back. For example, a four-inch heel doesn’t mean from the ground to the shoe’s top, but the actual heel’s size.
Turf Toe and Heels
Turf toe is a significant injury that can occur from wearing heels, and it can also be permanent.
Due to the placement of feet in heels, the big toe is always at an angle, causing significant hyperextension.
When pushing off the toes while walking in heels, the main joint can get damaged.
It is also important to note that turf toe can come from other sources.
One of the most common injuries among athletes and the top-recommended advice is to avoid wearing heels.
With turf toe and heels, the wearer will be putting an excessive amount of pressure on the injury, worsening it.
Are High Heels Good for Plantar Fasciitis?
Depending on who’s asked, heels can either be seen as a positive or a negative for plantar fasciitis.
Technically, elevating the heel can help to reduce tension on the plantar fascia. By doing so, pain should be decreased over an extended period.
Then again, heels can also cause compressive force. The heel’s height will have a significant bearing on whether the shoes are healthy to wear or not.
Kitten heels, for example, are a reasonable option for plantar fasciitis because they aren’t too high.
Wearers will require ample arch support, which can be accommodated by low heels and custom orthotics.
It’s also important to consider a round toe, rather than a pointed toe, as bunions are likely to develop with plantar fasciitis.
Are Heels Good for Flat Feet?
Wearing heels with flat feet can be useful for women, primarily to assist with good posture.
Like with plantar fasciitis, it is crucial to consider heels of a moderate height with added orthotics.
Without orthotics, the likelihood of knee, ankle, and back pain will increase, as well as bunions and blisters.
How To Stop Feet Sweating in High Heels
Foot sweat is all too common in people who wear heels, especially with closed-toe styles.
Deodorant is an exciting and affordable solution to help prevent feet from sweating, much like when used on the underarms.
By putting a couple of deodorant swipes on the bottom of the feet to close the pores, sweat will be significantly reduced.
In circumstances where sweaty feet are unbearable, opting for clinical strength deodorant can be preferred.
After the event, it’s ideal if the heels are stored by using cedar shoe trees.
Shoe trees are best for maintaining high heels while in the closet. More than that, cedar is also an absorbent material.
To help eliminate the smell and wetness of sweat, cedar shoe trees can protect shoes from harmful bacteria.
How To Relieve Ball of Feet Pain When Wearing Heels
The higher the heel, the more pressure will be put on the balls of the feet. This is when inserts can become most useful, as they help to distribute weight evenly.
There are many types of inserts available for high heels, whether they’re full-length or small pads.
When shopping for inserts, pay close attention to the packaging for the term “metatarsal.”
The metatarsal region is precisely where the foot’s ball is, which is where protection is needed the most.
Fortunately, the inserts are invisible while the heels are worn and offer ample padding to prevent discomfort.
Why Do I Have Numb Toes After Wearing Heels?
One of the most significant concerns with heels is if sizing is done incorrectly.
Wearing shoes that are too tight can lead to significant nerve damage over time.
Neuromas are quite common among men and women who consistently wear high heels.
Often, if the toe box is too tight for the feet, it can cause numbness.
Also, blood circulation is being cut off, so the wearer is likely to experience tingling and burning transitions to numbness.
Most of the time, the symptoms disappear after massaging the feet, but they can worsen without care.
Tips for Walking in High Heels
Not used to wearing heels? Follow these tips and tricks:
- Practice Heel-to-Toe Walking
Instead of walking from toe to heel, try to focus on doing heel-to-toe strides.
This technique helps make walking look more natural and prevents putting the whole foot down per step.
- Take Smaller Steps
Although it can be tempting to make giant strides in new heels, focusing on smaller steps is key.
Always expect to take more steps to go the same distance to help prevent slips and wobbly legs.
- Lean Back
For novice wearers, it can be tempting to walk faster than heels allow, which causes the body to lean forward.
Leaning back when wearing heels allows the body to counteract the natural feeling of leaning forward.
- Visualize a Straight Line
Walking gracefully in heels is significantly easier while looking at the endpoint of a journey.
With each stride, envision a straight line to follow rather than looking at the ground.
Celebrity High Heel Tripping Mishaps
It’s important to remember that even some of the most well-trained professionals have accidents in heels.
Although they look great, heels can wreak havoc during public appearances.
Here are some of the celebrities who have experienced heel tripping mishaps.
- Mariah Carey
Even the queen of music herself has had a fair share of high heel mishaps.
Wearing incredibly high Louboutin shoes, she tripped and fell during an appearance.
- Jessica Simpson
After walking past the paparazzi, Jessica Simpson’s heels accidentally got caught in a metal grate.
As the number one rule of heels, always make sure they don’t get stuck in something impossible to get out of.
- Lady Gaga
Pairing heels on slick marble floors is always a danger, especially if the floors are recently waxed.
With the taller heels she’s known for wearing, Lady Gaga slipped and fell in front of paparazzi, skinning her knees.
- Jennifer Lawrence
Likely one of the most recognizable celebrity trip-ups, Jennifer Lawrence fell at the Oscars as she makes her way onto the stage.
With the cameras on her, her gracefulness in heels fell short as she was about to accept her award.
- Bella Hadid
For as graceful as the runway model is, Bella Hadid has had her fair share of heel mishaps, as well.
Care and Feeding of Heels
With proper care, most heels can last several years before needing to be replaced.
There are several ways to ensure they last as long as possible with regular wear.
Always ensure that heels are adequately cleaned after wearing them.
Treat the exterior and interior with shoe-approved products, which would depend on the material.
For example, nubuck requires a different type of cleaning product than patent leather.
- Using Heel Savers
Heel savers are unique caps that fit over the heel to prevent damage from cobblestone pathways.
They are also essential for situations when heels get stuck in the grass.
- Be Mindful of Weather
Even though heels are shoes, they can be significantly damaged by unexpected weather conditions.
It’s best to treat the exterior with a weatherproof spray to ensure it remains waterproof. This process protects the material from wear and tear, as well.
What To Do With Old Heels
Any old heels that aren’t too damaged can be restored with the help of a cobbler.
Some of the most unsightly forms of damage can be easily rectified once in the hands of a professional.
Another alternative is to donate any old heels to a women’s shelter or donation boxes. Although they might not be in the best shape, many people would love the option to have them.
Recycling shoes is one of the best ways to repurpose them, as they could be donated locally or shipped overseas to third-world countries.
Garden planters are another alternative for wearers who want to get creative with old shoes that cannot be donated.
The flowers will soon overtake the shoe by taking old heels and filling them with growing medium and plants. It can be a unique yet unexpected addition to a garden.
How To Make Heels Not Slip
There’s no doubt that heels are one of the most slippery pairs of footwear, especially in the rain.
My favorite trick is to create a rough texture on the bottom of the shoe to prevent slips. I often rely on sandpaper to create a more gritty texture on the bottom to make them safer.
Alternatively, there are adhesive-based products designed to be anti-slip. However, they are often visible and might not be as reliable as customizing a tread at home.
How To Put Insoles in Heels
Insoles are a fantastic option for preventing the feet from slipping in heels, and they’re easy to install.
When purchased, there will be several different sizes per insole that are marked.
Using scissors, the wearer must cut along the guides for the specific shoe size they’re looking for.
Once finished, the insole is gently inserted, and any adjustments to the size can be made.
Heels for All Kinds of Feet
All feet are not made the same, which is why finding the right type of heels would depend on the person’s requirements and preferences.
What Are the Most Comfortable Heels for Bunions?
Naturalizer is known for its stylish and comfortable footwear.
The Teresa Pump has a classic appeal with a half-inch platform, three and a half-inch heel, and cushioned insole.
With the addition of Contour Plus technology, the feet can stay exceptionally comfortable throughout the day.
The insole is particularly notable, too, as it allows optimal breathability to help reduce sweating.
What’s more, the entire shoe consists of lightweight components that make it easy to wear.
There are a couple of different materials and colorways available for a custom look, including suede and leather.
Heels for Flat Feet
As a healthier option for feet, the Vionic Women’s Kit Minnie Mary Jane Heel is a fantastic choice.
It features a microfiber footbed and human-made components that have received the Seal of Acceptance from the APMA.
The concealed arch support is the most significant feature of the shoes, as they add podiatrist-designed features.
Heels for Plantar Fasciitis
The extra cushioning in the Naturalizer Women’s Banks Pump is incredibly useful for plantar fasciitis.
Also, the shoe’s low-profile design helps to keep feet closer to the ground for less pressure.
In addition to that, the breathable lining is comfortable to wear for extended periods, especially for sweaty feet.
Notably, the sole is flexible, so the shoe moves with the feet to promote anatomically-correct wearing.
Heels for Big Feet
Sam Edelman designs some of the most luxurious pairs of affordable footwear.
The Odila Classic Heeled Sandal has a stunning appeal, especially for larger feet requiring breathing room.
These shoes offer plenty of space for the feet to sit comfortably and an ankle strap for comfortable wearability.
I especially love the block heel, which is far more stable and comfortable than thin and pointed heels.
It checks all of the boxes of a fun and flirty functional shoe for everyday wear.
For a more formal option, the SAS Women’s Isabel Pump is designed with plenty of functional features.
There’s an adjustable instep strap that allows the wearer to customize the fit of the shoe. Also, the tripad cushions are entirely odor-resistant, helping to prevent the buildup of bacteria.
Another benefit of the tripad cushions is they offer support at three essential points: heel, inside, and outside of the ball.
With the soft polyurethane outsole addition, each step is perfectly cushioned by a ton of tiny bubbles.
Women’s Shoes With Removable Heels
Pashions are a phenomenal pair of footwear with new and upcoming technology for foot comfort and health.
Each pair of shoes is designed using a versatile knit, a fabric that enhances breathability and flexibility.
Also, the heels are removable and replaceable, allowing wearers to customize their favorite shoes’ style and fit.
Plus Size Heels for Wide Feet
One of my top recommended pairs of footwear for wide feet is the Naturalizer Women’s Banks Pump. They feature the feminine pointed toe without compromising space and movability.
The classic slingback design with the adjustable clasp allows wearers to have a customized fit. Also, the shoes have a specialized cushioned insole for all-day wear without discomfort.
I especially love the slightly elongated toe, which provides more space in the toe box. The footbed appears to be contoured to fit the unique shape of the feet, too.
Extra Wide Heels
The wide heels on the Clarks Women’s Deva Heidi shoes are impeccable for stability and comfort.
Wearers have two and a half added inches of height as well as cushion-soft padding in the outsole.
With the addition of the OrthoLite molded footbed, the shoe is contoured with each step. Also, there’s a buckle closure that is easily adjustable for anyone.
The side cutouts, as well as the smooth leather exterior, help add a more luxurious appeal to the shoe.
Heels for Narrow Feet
Fortunately, these shoes have a functional heel, all while adding a touch of classic elegance to the feet.
The NILE Stilettos feature a three-inch heel and a 0.25-inch platform for extra comfort.
The TPR rubber outsole is convenient to help prevent slipping.
Heels With Arch Support
Arch support is essential for all women, so the Trotters Women’s Kiera Pump is useful.
The 100% leather construction offers long-term wear, while the cushioned footbed has optimal shock-absorption.
With the added arch support, insoles won’t be needed for those who require extra help. Even the polyurethane footbed provides extra cushioning to prevent discomfort.
Its two-inch heel makes this a comfortable pair of shoes for novice heel wearers.
Heels for Arthritic Feet
With arthritic feet, it’s essential to avoid wearing heels at all costs, as doing so can lead to significant joint damage.
Also, consistently wearing high heels puts women with arthritic feet at a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis.
The heels’ design puts increased pressure on the knee, foot, and ankle joints, leading to premature wear and tear.
Here are a few additional products that I highly recommend for protecting the feet while wearing high heels.
Best Metatarsal Pads for Heels
The Walkize Metatarsal Pads are simply the best because they have a one-size-fits-all construction.
The high-strength adhesive sticks onto insoles without slippage or movement.
I prefer wearing them in heels where the balls of my feet tend to slip forward to prevent turf toe.
Each step is protected by an ample amount of padding, assisting with general discomfort. Also, they can be applied anywhere in the shoe to add extra support where needed.
Best Sole Inserts for Sore Heels
Instead of opting for expensive custom orthotics, I highly recommend these inserts.
Dr. Scholl’s HEEL Pain Relief Orthotics help to relieve pain from plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. They’re available in several sizes and have plenty of innovative technology.
Using Shock Guard Technology, the pain will immediately be relieved at the source when wearing any shoes.
There’s also a supportive cup at the heel, which adds to the natural padding of the foot.
They can be worn in larger closed-toed heels but are best for work boots, running shoes, and casual walking shoes.
Best Heel Protectors
As earlier mentioned, heel protectors are a fantastic way to preserve the integrity of shoes.
They protect against grates, wooden decks, cobblestones, and more by slipping over the bottom of high heels.
They have a sleek and elegant design that won’t be too visible, and three sizes are available.