So there I was at Toastmasters Holiday Party putting down my rendition of “Santa Baby” à la Eartha Kitt. Dressed to kill in a strapless evening gown and 4-inch killer high heels, I looked “mahvelous, absolutely mahvelous” in the words of Billy Crystal’s comedic characterization of Argentinian actor and heart-throb Fernando Lamas who quipped: “Just looking into your eyes, dahling, I can tell that you have the legs of a dancer.”
Professional dancers and models, along with many other women (and some men) all cultivate that sexy, long, lean leg line by donning high heel shoes. The higher the heel, the more dramatic the effect – or so the thinking goes.
It had been quite a while since I had traipsed about in anything taller than a 2″ boot heel – it is wintertime, after all – so I was unprepared for the painful reminder as to why my collection of super-stilty footwear has been stashed away on the top closet shelf for years (literally).
It didn’t take long before I was hobbling around the room, taking the shortest steps possible. Normal walking was out of the question – but my performance was AWESOME – and definitely enhanced by the extra height my pointy-toed high heels provided.
At least, I had the foresight to stash a pair of flat-heeled boots in my car to slip into after the gathering broke up. Relief flooded over my entire body as, once again, I could relax.
People who have never worn high heels wonder why any sane individual would wear them. The answer is simple, according to Crystal-as-Lamas:
“It’s better to look good than to feel good.”
Certain jobs (such as modeling) pretty much demand wearing high heels. For those who choose to or simply must trip the light fantastic in heightening shoes, here are 16 feel-good pointers to minimize foot pain:
- Go shoe shopping after you’ve been on your feet for a few hours. Your warmed-up feet will swell a bit (unlike cold feet) and you probably won’t be tempted to buy shoes that look great but are a half-size too small.
- Supermodels and other high heel experts recommend roughing up the soles of those brand new shoes to increase their ability to grip the floor or ground. Simply use some sandpaper or scissors to scratch or lightly score the bottoms of your shoes. Other tricks include spraying tacky hairspray or spittle underneath to prevent slips and falls.
- Before you go forth in public to conquer, sporting those gorgeous new stilettos, first break them in by putting on socks and wearing them around the house (or office, if you can get away with it). Heat tight spots with a blow dryer to loosen them up.
- Also, wear your new high heels as you would normally, with thin stockings or perhaps no sock at all. Walk around the house in them to determine painful spots. Briefly soak bits of fabric (plasters) and apply them to the pain points on your feet. Then, put your heels back on and keep on a-truckin’. The wetted plasters will allow the shoe to stretch out and mold itself as it expands over them.
- Counting from your big toe, tape your third and fourth toes together. The scientific explanation behind this high heel hack is that a nerve splits between those two toes. Pressure on that point produces pain. The tape buffers the zone and reduces strain on the nerve. The ball of your foot should be much steadier.
- Apply spray deodorant to your feet before putting on those heels. This will reduce perspiration and add friction inside the shoes, both of which lower the odds of developing annoying blisters.
- Smooth rough edges inside your high heels with a regular nail file and coat them with a thin layer of Vaseline. This smoothing action will keep irritation from rubbing at bay.
- Get some rubber grips and stick them on the widest part of the soles of your shoes. This will add grip and stability when you walk.
- Certain types of high heels are more comfortable than others. Wedge heels and those with straps, ties, or buckles provide extra support to your ankles and keep your feet from slipping out.
- Wear high heels one or two days in a row, then give them a break for a day. Repeat.
- The foot section of your pharmacy should have soft cotton flannel (called moleskin, because that’s what they were made from originally) that comes with an adhesive backing, similar to a band-aid, but bigger and shaped to the contour of a shoe. Moleskin conforms to the shape of your foot and adds protection from corns, callouses, and blisters as an additional thick layer of skin.
- You can pick up gel insoles at the pharmacy or online and secrete them under your tender feet to protect them from painful pressure.
- After you’ve taken off painfully pointy high heels, put the fingers of each hand between your toes to force them apart. This “unsquishes” them and provides some much-needed relief.
- As for the shoes, expand them with a shoe stretcher or a man’s shoe tree.
- If you wind up with a blister – or several – after wearing your to-die-for high heels, stock up on some band-aids designed specifically for foot blisters. These slip easily into a purse or bag. Keep some in the glove compartment of your car. These bandages feature an extra-soft pillow-like pad that cushions your tootsies and heels.
- Another effective blister treatment that feels really good is a warm soak in Epsom salts for ten minutes or so. The salt has antiseptic properties to ward off infection from skin exposed by blistering.
Using these high heel hacks will let you feel as good as you look: Marvelous. Absolutely marvelous.