The no pain heels guide - How to feel like you are in high heel heaven

Towering pain: It takes one hour, six minutes and 48 seconds for high heels to start hurting. We’ve all been there: we’ve left the house feeling like the epitome of glamour in our new heels only to end up a hobbling hunch-back within an hour — or one hour, six minutes and 48 seconds to be exact. 

For that’s how long it takes for our high heels to start hurting according to a recent survey by the College of Podiatry, which asked 2,000 women and men (are those Cuban heels causing a bit of bother, Mr Cowell and Mr Cruise?).

For a more delicate 20 per cent of respondents, the pain starts after just ten minutes, while more than a third said their feet had been so sore on a night out that they danced shoeless and walked home barefoot.  

Of course, none of this comes as a surprise. We all know heels hurt and they’re bad for us — causing corns and callouses, bunions and back pain — but we still wear them. So what can we do to lessen the pain?

‘I wear 3in heels every day, so I know it’s unrealistic to tell women to stop wearing them,’ says podiatrist Emma Supple. ‘Stepping into a pair of high heels makes us feel more confident and walk taller — literally. But there are ways to make it easier.’

Here’s our guide to high-heel heaven . . .

The right fit should be snug but with some room for your toes to wriggle and not be squashed. Too small and you’ll get blisters and deformed toes — a condition called hammer toe.

Too big and your feet will slide down and put more pressure on your toes. Where possible, ask to try a half size up or down to see if that helps.

If the shoe is pointed, the point must come after your toes end so they’re not squished together.

But, according to Emma, it’s better to avoid them altogether. ‘A slightly rounded toe is always going to be more comfortable,’ she says.  


Contrary to popular belief, wedges are not necessarily better for your feet than spiked heels.

‘I’ve seen a woman doubled over with pain after wearing wedges,’ says Emma. ‘There’s very little flexibility in them and you have to lift your feet right off the ground to walk, stomping your foot back down afterwards.

‘The important thing is not the style or thickness of the heel, it’s the position of it. It needs to be right under the heel bone, not at the back of the foot, as is the case with some shoes. If the stiletto is positioned too far back, you are going to be thrown off balance and everything will hurt.’


Avoid the temptation to buy cheap heels for a night out. Chances are they will be made of plastic, which will make your feet sweat and swell — making the shoes pinch.

Also, plastic has very little give, meaning you are more likely to get blisters where it rubs. Shoes with a leather lining, on the other hand, are softer and more supple and less likely to rub.

That said, Stella McCartney has very good ‘vegan’ shoes, with no leather that are super soft — just be prepared to pay a premium for them.



If your shoes are stiff and rubbing at the heel, try a suede heel grip or an anti-slip slingback sticker. You stick the soft leather strip into your slingback straps and it stops them from falling down and prevents friction.  


Die-hard heel lovers are now having fillers injected into the balls of their feet to help with the pain, but there are less drastic alternatives. Soft gel-filled cushions can relieve the pressure put on the balls of your feet, especially if your shoes have thin soles.

Dr Scholl’s ‘party feet’ gel cushions — are still the most popular but M&S do a good range, too. ‘Be careful of ones that are so thick they squish your feet more than they already are,’ says Emma. 


‘Forget soaking your feet in a hot bath after a long day — you need to ease the pain with cold,’ says Emma.

‘After wearing high heels your feet get swollen, so when you come home put them in a cold bath for 15 minutes to reduce the swelling. Then before you go to bed apply some foot cream. This restores the suppleness of the skin, which will help prevent it from cracking and blistering.’

Try Supple London Mineral Foot cream or Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Foot Cream. Keep your toenails short so they don’t dig into your skin when your toes are in narrow shoes.


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