How to shop for heels
Shop wisely. Not all high heels are created equal and the ability to walk well in high heels relies heavily on choosing the right ones. Always try both shoes on in the store and take a walk around—if you don't find them comfortable immediately, then you probably never will.
1. The Cinderella Rule.
Make sure the shoe fits, Princess. If this rule was good enough for Cinderella, it should be good enough for you. You must remember that the shoe needs to fit your foot and not the other way round. If shoes are too big or too small, it makes walking properly that much more difficult.
2. Look for a balanced heel.
Surprisingly many recommend buying stilettos, which distribute your weight evenly across the shoe. Ideally, a woman's weight should be distributed from the heel to the forefront of the foot. It's a little counter intuitive, but the thinnest heel could help with balance the most. If the arch of the shoe isn't aligned properly, it will result not only in sore feet, but also discomfort for your knees, lower back, and create a poor body posture.
3. Choose styles with a padded sole.
Are you an insole wearer? If so, when adding insoles yourself it's important to buy your shoes a size bigger as inserts often take up space in your heels causing them to be smaller. Alternatively, you can buy heels where the comforting insoles are integrated inside, which avoids the problem of an insole taking up unexpected space. Consider taking some metatarsal pads to the shoe store when you are buying your shoes. You may end up wearing them for extra cushioning, and of course what you are going to wear out, needs to be worn when you buy.
4. Strengthen your ankles.
A few exercises that can be done at home are:
- Floor Calf Raises, which targets the calves and shins— the muscles responsible for stabilizing the ankles. Strong ankles are imperative for stiletto-wearers, as are the calves since they're in a fully flexed position when in heels. (Perform three sets of 20 reps.)
- Foam Roller Myofascial Release. Rolling the sides of the quads and calves on a foam roller is actually better than performing warm up and cool down stretches. It increases blood flow to the legs, bringing oxygen and vital nutrients to the muscles that are working the hardest. (Roll for five minutes on each side.)
- Ankle Alphabet. Moving your ankles in a dynamic stretch with a full range of motion boosts circulation and loosens the ligaments and tendons that reside in the ankle area. While seated on the floor with your knees up, elevate one leg in the air and begin writing out the entire alphabet with your foot. Alternate between feet, as well as tracing the alphabet in lowercase and uppercase letters, in cursive and manuscript.
- Arch Rolls. This myofascial release move is equivalent to receiving a reflexology foot massage. Rolling a ball underneath the arches helps relieve tension and de-stress the bottom of your feet, which are often irritated for habitual high-heel wearers. (Roll for at least two minutes on each foot.)
Even a quick foot massage moving your foot in circles clockwise and anti-clock wise can be beneficial for tired feet at work.
5. Give your toes room to breathe.
We highly recommend open toe heels as much as possible, as they allow your toes to lay in their natural way, without being squeezed on top of each other. Less compression from the sides reduces pain from the day or night's event. More importantly, it can help reduce the long term effects of wearing heels. If you need a closed pump make sure you buy them big enough and that they are wide enough for your feet, so they are able to lie next to each other comfortably.
6. Stick to leather or suede.
Synthetic materials don't allow your feet to breathe, as well as natural fibers and flexible material such as leather. Less perspiration means less slipping and sliding, and furthermore less rubbing. Synthetic leather heels are cheaper and more affordable, but come with a series of setbacks. If you invest in a quality real leather heels your feet will thank you in the long run. High-heels made from leather or suede (or a combination of both) are more supple and will more easily adjust to the feet shape. This will also prevent your feet from chafing. Leather or seude will last much longer than synthetic leather shoes. To check if the shoes made from real leather or suede, check the inside of the shoes. If it says man-made upper or man-made materials, they are from synthetic materials. If it says leather upper or suede upper, they are made from real leather or suede materials.
7. Be careful with buckles.
A tight strap around a warm, summer foot can cause discomfort. If wearing buckles in the summer heat, adjust them throughout the day so your feet can breathe when they get hot, or buy sandals with an elastic band instead of buckles. You want to remove any obstacles to a pain free experience.
8. Higher is not always sexier.
People often say that super high heels are sexier than shorter styles, but there's no point going for a higher heel if you're unable to walk in them. If you can't walk in them, then they are JUST NOT SEXY. There is nothing sexy about clumsiness.
9. Platforms and Heels.
The heel isn't the only thing to watch out for - you should pay attention to the platform, too. A heel height that is 4 inches high with no platform will put pressure on the ball of your foot up to 86% of your body weight. And you wondered why some shoes kill so badly?? However, adding in a platform of just an inch will leave the pressure drastically decreased to around 56-65% of your body weight. So, think about a drop in a heel height next time you take down a pair of stilettos from the shelves when shopping.
10. Don't get blinded by the brand.
A label isn't everything. Even though you might love a certain brand, if the shoe simply doesn't fit your foot, then you won't be able to enjoy them no matter what the label says.