September 19, 2014
For many women (and more men than you’d expect), wearing high heels is both a dream and a nightmare. With a bit of know-how and a little effort, there’s no reason that heels can’t become a part of your reality.
- Make sure your shoes fit well, this means actually trying them on before buying them, and keeping them on for at least a few minutes. You have to stand up in them and see if they still feel alright. If they hurt just standing in them – they’re not the shoe for you.
- Walk around in the shoes, take long powerful strides – did you just step out of the shoe? If so, try a size down, if that’s too small, then you’re going to need a heel insert (or two), this should help keep the shoe snug on your foot.
- Pay close attention to the toe box (this, not surprisingly, is where your toes sit in the shoe). There are pointy toes, almond toes, round toes, square toes, peep toes, open toes, etc. Pointy toes and larger peeps tend to be the most uncomfortable, but different feet have different needs. You can’t expect to be able to freely wiggle your toes the way you might with a pair of running shoes, but you should be able to both scrunch up your toes, and move them at least a little bit.
There are 4 factors involved here: vamp, height, impact, and friction.
- The vamp on a shoe refers to how much of the top of the foot the shoe covers, a high vamp covers a lot of foot, a low vamp not so much. The higher the vamp the less pressure the shoe creates against the top of the foot. So if you’re new to high heels keep your toe cleavage well covered.
- Determine if the heel is too high for you. Unless you’re enjoying a bit of the good old BDSM, your Achilles tendon shouldn’t be at its maximum contraction. Put the shoe on and then see if you can still go up higher on your toes. If you can go up at least an inch, you should be alright.
- Impact is felt mainly on the ball of the foot, less so on the heel. The best way to avoid impact related pain is to … sit down. If you can’t sit down, then simply stand still – the sexier the shoe, the more likely that people will be happy to fetch things for you. Of course, unless you have a docile lumberjack at your disposal, willing to sling you over their shoulders and hoist you from place to place, you will likely have to walk at some point. Minimising impact is essential. Gel inserts work wonders, but there are a wide assortment of other inserts available that offer a number of functions.
- Friction is another phenomenon that can be avoided by being carted about by a willing lumberjack, since it occurs when you’re walking around and you shoe fails to precisely mimic your movements, pulling across your skin with each step. Your foot slides ever so slightly in and out, up and down in the shoe – leading to blisters pretty quickly. A great fitting shoe won’t do this, since your foot and shoe are going to move as one. Shoes worn with socks/tights/hose are unlikely to cause blisters either, since even if the shoe doesn’t fit perfectly, the sock will minimise the amount of friction experienced by your feet. Most of the time you’ll be wearing your heels without hosiery, so aim to be friction free. Bandaids help – especially if you apply them as a preventative measure. Heel inserts, as mention previously, can help achieve perfect fit, but they can also provide a softer surface for your foot to rub against, minimising the occurrence of blisters. Blister prevention sprays will also minimise friction. Best though, is to only buy shoes that fit perfectly! Seriously!
- Stand up straight and walk: heel toe, heel toe. The other way around will have you stomping about hunched over and awkward. You’re already up on the balls of your feet, so extending your heel a bit to touch ground first will actually help your foot land in a smooth motion, which is much more balanced. If you reach forward with your toe first, you’ll wind up snagging your heel – and down you go.
- Shorten your stride. This will likely happen naturally, but if you’re new to heels try to pay attention to it.
- Keep your ankles straight. If you happen to step on uneven ground, having your ankles straight will keep you upright. When your ankles are slouched you’ve lost the wiggle room needed to maintain your balance on dicey territory.
- Subway grates. It’s time to get fancy. Subway grates do not have to be the bane of the high-heeled wearer. Forget the heel toe and keep your weight on the balls of your feet as if tip-toeing, this way you’re weight isn’t concentrated on the part of your shoe that can actually slip into the grate. Tip toe and you’ll be fine. (This also applies to grass and sand, if you’re hardcore and insist on wearing your high heels on these surfaces).
- Ice and other slippery surfaces. Keep your feet low to the ground and move slowly. As you step forward, keep your back foot as fully on the ground as you can, then shift your weight forward and repeat with the other foot – ta da, look who’s walking! Sometimes on ice, it doesn’t hurt to dig your heels in a bit.
Getting up/sitting down:
- Perch on the edge of your seat and lean forward so your weight is centred above your knees, rising up from here will be smooth and easy. If you’re going to use your hands for leverage, it’s better to reach for an armrest or seat rather than a table top.
- Going up the stairs is more dangerous than going down, because the narrow depth of most stairs can leave the heel of your shoe dangling over the edge. Put your weight on the ball of the foot and toes and lean forward, this way if your heel misses the step, you won’t fall back.
- Going down the stairs is easier so long as you aim for your heels to land near the back of the step (close to where the stair rises). For most women, this will allow the heel and most of the ball of the foot to land on the step.
- The beauty pageant angled foot is another option for walking down the stairs. Simply angle your legs so your entire foot can land on the steps. The lead foot (if you’re angled to the left, the left foot is the lead) goes over the right to the next step, and the trailing foot swings around from behind. This is a bit tricky, but it will keep you from flashing your cooch if you’re in a short skirt.
- Use the banister!
There are only two reasons to wear high heels: because they’re gorgeous, and because they make your figure look totally kick ass. So, mind your posture, yeah? If you’re just going to slouch, then why go through all the bother of wearing heels?
Start small! Kitten heels are in, and they’re usually only a half inch high. Start there, then move up to an inch, two inches, etc. There is a heel height out there that’s perfect for you.
If you refuse to start small, then at least be solid. A small platform reduces the amount your foot has to raise, while often reducing the amount of impact on the ball of the foot. Wedge heels offer a ton of support, as do chunky heels.
Shoes are addictive, so tread lightly, and have fun!
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Tags: high heels, how to, walking in high heels