How To Make Heels Comfortable: 10 Hacks For Pain-Free Stiletto Wearing

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heel pain relief

We've all been there. We get a pair of heels that are so sexy, we're just obsessed. And then we never wear them because they are incredibly painful. We might be wondering what causes heel pain and if there are methods for how to make heels more comfortable and finally get some heel pain relief.

"High heels may be painful for anyone; women suffering from varicose veins and underlying venous insufficiency are especially prone to discomfort," says Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth, an endovascular surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates. "Veins have a series of series of one-way valves to facilitate the return of blood towards the heart... While veins anywhere in the body can become varicose, veins in the legs are most affected due to the larger pressure from sustained standing, walking or other stress on the legs or feet."

RELATED: 5 Incredible Facts That'll Make You Want To Stop Wearing Heels

Though varicose veins can be unsightly and cause cosmetic concerns, they can also cause very significant symptoms, some which may not be immediately noticeable, yet can be indicative of underlying vein disease. Common symptoms include throbbing pain, heaviness and fatigue in the legs, and swelling in the legs and feet.

Whether your have vein issues or are just choosing the wrong shoes, there's a lot we can do to keep our heels as comfortable as can be and minimize pain when we want to look our best.

1. Stand less.

"Long periods of standing can cause veins to stay filled with blood, so make sure to take sitting breaks if you find yourself on your feet for a long time. Do ankle rotations while sitting and standing to help keep the circulation going and alleviate some of the stress," advises Dr. Hollingsworth.

2. Alternate your shoes.

Sure, you have those favorite stilettos — and we get it. But you'll have healthier and happier feet if you have a few shoes of varying heights and inclines to switch to during the week.

"To keep feet happy, alternate heel heights and styles throughout the week and even throughout the day," says Dr. Jackie Sutera, podiatrist & Vionic Innovation lab member. 

3. Only wear your heels once you arrive.

You've seen ladies on the train in suits and sneakers, and there's good reason for that. Commuting in comfortable flats and switching to heels later is good news for your tootsies and is a great way for how to make heels more comfortable. Because we all know how horrible a commute can be when your feet are aching.

According to Dr. Sutera, "Wearing commuter shoes to and from work or your event is a great way to cut down on the amount of time that you're wearing your high heels daily."

RELATED: Finally! Genius, Saintly Woman Creates Painless Stilettos

4. Never break new shoes in by wearing them.

You know those shoes that totally hurt when you try them on, but you convince yourself they will hurt less once you wear them out for a bit? Don't do it. "Use a shoe stretcher and wear them for 15 to 30 minutes at a time," advises Dr. Sutera.

5. Buy shoes that fit.

Swelling can occur in the legs and feet due to pooling of the blood and can cause your feet to go up a size or two. Nobody wants that, right? "Avoid unnecessary stress on the feet by making sure to buy shoes that fit, even if it’s not your 'regular' size," warns Dr. Hollingsworth.

Shoes should feel snug but not tight when you first put them, on and there should be no pressure points. "This is a plus if you have a shoe with good support and some cushioning," says Taryn Rose MD., founder and strategic advisor of Taryn Rose, an orthopedic surgeon turned shoe designer.

6. Bring extra shoes.

There's days we do a lot more running around than intended, and if we are doing so in heels, that's really stressful on our feet and can be what causes heel pain especially.

"Keep an alternate pair of comfortable shoes on hand and consider wearing light support hose when possible to reduce pressure," says Dr. Hollingsworth. You can throw them in your purse or even keep them in your desk so they are handy.

7. Make sure the shoes are wide enough.

Sure, high heels are sexy, but not when your feet are covered in blisters! Another great way to get heel pain relief? Stop buying narrow shoes.

"The biggest mistake is to buy shoes that are too narrow for your feet. A shoe may look great on the shelf because they are slim and sleek, but if they are too narrow, they will cause a lot of pain," warns Rose. Make sure you are wearing the right width.

8. Don't wear too-high heels.

According to Rose, most women can tolerate up to 2 1/2 inches comfortably. But beyond that, you need to be used to high heels or have special technology or extra support.

9. Elevate your feet.

Put your feet up throughout the day and elevate them when you get home at night if they are painful or swollen. "Try rubbing in some homeopathic arnica after a long session in heels to reduce pain, bruising and swelling by morning," advises Dr. Hollingsworth.

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her at

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