How to Comfortably Wear High Heels, According to Podiatrists

Updated: Feb. 26, 2021

Walking in high heels can be painful, especially if you wear them often. Check out our tips on how to avoid high heel pain while wearing your heels in style.


Get measured

A common mistake people make when wearing high heels is that they don’t get their feet measured beforehand. In an article in Podiatry Today, Jenny L. Sanders, DPM, recommends remeasuring your feet. It is not uncommon for a woman to be wearing a size seven when her current measurement is actually closer to size nine, especially if a woman has had children or gains or loses a significant amount of weight, Dr. Sanders writes.


Make sure the shoe fits

It’s not enough to know your size: Shoe sizes can vary from brand to brand and some are wider/narrower than others, so make sure you do your research before purchasing. Even shoes within the same brand can come slightly different, so try heels on before you buy them.


Go for stability

Stability is very important in high heels and can be the difference between achy feet and high heel pain relief. “A shoe is more stable when the pitch of the high heel is perpendicular to the ground,” says Dr. Sanders. “Some high heels are pitched forward, making the heel unstable and prone to breakage or shoe insecurity. The more posterior the heel is positioned, the better the stability.” Check out these common causes of back pain.


Invest in an orthotic for high heels

If your feet continue to hurt in high heels and you don’t want to give them up, it might be time to invest in an orthotic to put in your heels to minimize pain. Dr. Sanders says her favorite brand of non-custom orthotic for high heels is the Superfeet Women’s ¾ High Heel device.


Watch out for heel slippage

When you wear heels, does your foot slide forward and the heel slips out? Take a cue from men’s shoes and buy a tongue pad (a felt pad) to keep the shoe from slipping. (Check out these genius tips to make your heels last longer.)


Know that it might be in your genes

Some people have an easier time wearing heels because their feet are better built to handle the shoes. “Whether or not you can tolerate high heels is directly related to the biomechanical structure of your feet,” according to Cathleen A. McCarthy, DPM, on “The biomechanical structure of your feet is genetic and runs in families and it can also be related to previous injury.” Wondering which heel is best for your foot? Check out Dr. McCarthy’s detailed breakdown in heels based on your biochemical structure.


Save your heels for special occasions

Even if you are an expert in how to walk in high heels, no matter how equipped you are to handle high heel pain, if you wear heels too often, you can potentially cause yourself long term foot and ankle problems, including bunions, osteoarthritis, calluses, plantar plate injury, ingrown nails, and blisters. Save your highest heels for special occasions only. Here’s how to treat a blister if you do get one from your heels.


If your feet are sore, opt for flats

It may seem like an obvious and simple suggestion, but podiatrists across the board insist that wearing high heels should be especially avoided if your feet already hurt. For more tootsie-saving tips, check out these 13 things your podiatrist won’t tell you.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest