Walk It Off – how to wear high heels comfortably

Walk It Off – how to wear high heels comfortably

Stilettos. Those brutal match sticks we’ve all tottered around in, looking gorgeous on the outside and feeling cursed on the inside. Blisters, burning, balancing and, for some of us, a fear that the heel might just break off. So we tried wedges, kitten heels and court shoes to get that extra bit of height, without the agony. But the style of heel didn’t change the fact that is was still a heel, so the pain remained.

We know that our bodies aren’t designed to walk on tip-toe all day, and yet we wear high heels. Whether it’s for the look, the strut or the height, many women love their heels. I do too. But as someone on the heavier side and with wide feet, I’ve found wearing heels to cause not just blisters but the feeling of my metatarsal area being on fire, reducing my strut to a crippled wobble. So to help you in your determination to wear illogical but beautiful footwear, here’s my review of the most common accessories to give a helping hand to your flaming feet.

How to wear heels comfortably

Full ball/toe pads

This was the first solution I tried and they are still in use. It’s simply extra cushioning that you place over your toes and the ball of your foot, like a really tiny padded sock. They’re simple and can be washing in the machine (in a delicates bag so they don’t get lost). They stay in place all day and don’t cause any friction on the skin. However, the mesh over the top of the foot can be a bit long so they might be visible in low-cut shoes, and the bulk of the padding might cramp your toe space. But in wedge or heeled boots they are very comfortable.

Thong-style ball/toe pads

Exactly like the pads above, these are additional fabric cushioning under the feet. The flip-flop style means that they are more likely to be invisible in low-cut shoes. However I’ve never found one with padding as thick as the full toe pads, so they might not help much inside a super high heel.

Stick on flowers

I read great reviews about these flower- or toe-shaped stick on pads, as if wearing these would end foot pain forever! Sorry to burst your bubble – or blister – but they don’t. Think of these like a velvety version of bath stickers. Yes, they do stop you from sliding around in your shoes so if friction is your main problem they could suit you fine. If the weight and pressure is also a concern, then you won’t get as much relief as you might hope.

Gel soles (flat)

I paid 3-10 times more for these than each of the other items and immediately regretted it. Full gel soles feel like little waterbeds under your feet. In flats it creates an uneasy wobbling feeling and in heels the gel bunches under your toes, feeling lumpy and taking up too much space. Plus they can be hard to cut to size without making a sticky mess of it.

Metatarsal pads with toe loop

I was quite excited to try these as they look as though they would avoid the issues that the full gel soles had. To a great extent, they did. There was less movement that a full gel sole, but enough that the shoes didn’t feel too tight. Unfortunately for me, there was too much movement for the toe loop to handle and it broke. However they did work so they are worth trying out.

Metatarsal mittens

Not sure what these are called. They are biggest of the gel options. These slip-ons consist of a thick gel pad inside a short lycra toe-less sock thing and is the closest you’ll get to walking on mini mattresses. They are wonderful! But like the full fabric pads the sock design is quite bulky and too broad for most low-cut shoes, and like the toe loops there is a bit too much movement. When I wear these I hold them in place with a bit of sticking plaster under the big toe otherwise it blisters.

Gel soles with arch support

When you see these, you’ll think you wasted your money. They are tiny! At first I thought it was a sizing issue, but they really are meant to be that small. It’s a stick-on insole that doesn’t fill the whole inner sole. Instead, it gives extra padding just to the key areas of heel, arch and ball-of-foot. These funny little mini-soles have become my favourite! By supporting the arch the body weight is more evenly distributed over the foot, so there is less pressure on the ball.

The dumbest, but best trick of all

When I read about this trick, I thought it stupid. I thought it over and still thought it was stupid. Then I decided that since it was free I may as well try it.

OMFG it works: the tape method

Toe taping for reduced pain in feet

Get some sturdy sticking plaster. The fabric style is very useful for this. Tape toes 3 and 4 together. Wear your heels and be amazed!! Seriously! Our feet has a nerve that runs between these two toes and when we wear heels, there is extra pressure on that nerve. By taping the toes together there is less strain on that nerve and your feet will resist our self-inflicted torture for longer. Combine this trick with any of the pads above and you’ll be able to keep your strut going all day long!


Remember to pamper your feet when you get home. They put up with a lot!

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