Walk The Line! Making Heels More Comfortable.

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We get a lot of conflicting opinions on how best to walk in heels. After a brief online search I found myself being advised both to “walk as you would in and shoes” but also follow a complex to-do list to make my walk more graceful. Whilst I’d love to be able to pull off that trick, it doesn’t help for people like me who consistently feel unstable in heels. And if I do manage to wear them for a while, you can be sure that my feet are going to get angry about it. So what can I do to improve my heel ability? When will I be able to walk, nay, RUN in heels like some of my friends?

Technique

Having read a lot of posts on the subject I think I can summarise the top tricks when it comes to wearing a pair of heels and making your walk look more natural:

  • Adapt to a shorter stride, a ridiculously small one if you’re new to heels. You can increase the length of your gait as you gain in confidence.
  • Knees should be loose and don’t tighten your feet constantly, tighten your ABS instead.
  • When posts say to “walk as you would in normal shoes” I think what they mean is that you should still aim to put the ball of your ankle down first, even though it’s much higher now. Don’t trot along on your toes because it messes up your balance.
  • One article suggested taking sandpaper to the bottom of your heels to increase the stability through friction.
  • Having good posture is apparently key to feeling more stable, so don’t look down at your lovely shoes but keep your head up and shoulders back. Even lean back a bit (not too much!) and test the support you have.
  • Walk in a straight line as much as possible.

This is a lot like driving when I try it out in my flat: thinking about so many things at once working together. But over time the multitasking got easier and, I have to admit, the stability issue felt a lot better. I even tried that fancy “walk with one foot directly in front of the other” that I’ve seen on catwalk but at this point I flew too close to the sun and tripped over one of my own heels. So what else is out there to help me?

More Support

Additional support can make a world of difference to even the most aggressive heels and there are plenty to choose from. If you’re wearing heeled boots then speciality socks can combat any discomfort or blisters that you might usually experience. And there’s now a whole host of gel pads and supports that will offer your feet a lot more comfort, so I’d advise mixing and matching until you find the one that works best for you.

Another trend I’ve noticed is towards flat, flexible shoes that can be wrapped up and placed in a bag, ensuring that you have a change of shoes towards the end of the night. This is great if you’ve found yourself walking home barefoot, heels in hand, after your feet simply couldn’t take anymore. It feels great but there are all kinds of nasties on the pavement, so I really support this girl scout thinking! Rollasole is a company I happened upon in my search and they offer shoes that can roll up incredibly tightly, plus they’re sold with a bag to put your heels in safely so you’re not clutching at straps.

Of course, if you’re finding walking in heels to be painful no matter how much support you add then there could be an underlying problem.

Difficulties Walking in Heels Can Reveal Other Conditions

On the face of it, I think most of us know that wearing heels isn’t good for our feet. On a basic level, when you put your feet into the position required for heels, it doesn’t feel very comfortable or natural. But we also love the way they look. Maybe (like me) you have short legs and desperately want to look nicer in skirts. Perhaps you love the confidence they give you or the sexy strut they encourage. Or maybe you just have a gorgeous set of heels that you simply have to make up excuses to wear. Whatever reason you have, you should do what makes you happy! But do ensure that you pay attention to certain difficulties and pains that can indicate other conditions.

Tendonitis: A common issue with runners, this condition is caused by a weakening of the calf muscle and causes other muscles to compensate. What you end up with is shooting pain across the sole of your foot or an increasing “tightness” as the ligaments all try to make up for that calf. If you notice this pain then go to your GP and try out the strength building exercises recommended towards the end of this article. Not only will your pain decrease but you’re also likely to have better stability in your heels thanks to your improved muscles.

Over Pronation: Another condition caused by weakness in certain muscles groups. over pronation is what we might call “weak ankles”. If you’re walking along and your foot suddenly twists outwards on a regular basis then you may have over pronation. Muscle weakness in an area of the foot once again causes your feet to compensate. When they fail to do so properly then this weakness causes your foot (or feet) to turn outwards. In heels this can really increase your risk of ankle twisting. If you’re concerned then you can go to your GP who may refer you to a podiatrist. Weak ankles can often be treated with special insoles, which can either be customised to your foot or bought from a shop. At times, insoles can correct a foot problem permanently once your gait has improved!

These are just two conditions which can be picked up on if you’re constantly having pain when walking in heels. If you are experiencing muscle pains when in heels then see your GP, especially if this transfers over to other shoes like flats.

If you are already walking in heels with a foot condition or injury then there may be accessories you’re already considering…

Making Your Walking Stick or Crutches Match Your Style!

If you have a mild condition that requires the occasional use of a walking stick then don’t leave it at home. I’ve had friends who can get remarkably self-conscious about having a stick or crutches with them on a night out, perhaps because they feel it singles them out or due to the very real fear that it might get lost. Folding walking sticks are great for a night out and can ensure that you have the support you need if you’re wearing heels.

Crutches also don’t have to take anything away from your style. I once had a housemate who used to use black duct tape on her crutches, giving them a cool black colour that went far better with her outfits than their original grey. You can even get colourful versions of crutches that can double up as great accessories.

If you walk more comfortably with your stick or crutches then I’d always advise taking them. They will reduce any risk of twisting your ankles and will also support whatever condition or injury you have. You may find that, by the end of the night, your friends will wish they had walking sticks too!

Don’t Let Heels Knock You Off Your Feet

Researching this article gave me a lot of hope that I can teach myself to walk a little more gracefully in heels on the rare occasions where I want to wear them. I have several items at the bottom of my wardrobe that have never seen the light of day, will I finally have the ability to wear them on a night out? Fingers crossed!

Photo by David Locke

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