If you're going to wear heels, WebMD combined advice from our two experts, along with suggestions from the American Podiatric Association, to protect your feet.
- Get the best-fitting high heel possible. While this may seem like a given, stop and think: How many pairs of high heels cause your feet to slide to the front, leaving a gap big enough for a small cell phone behind your heel? Mogul says high heels that don't fit properly cause the front of the foot to fly forward, creating more pressure—and pain—on toes. Look for narrow heels with a snug but not tight fit to correct the problem.
- Cushion, cushion, cushion. While a full-shoe insert can help, if you have pain in the ball of the foot—or you'll be standing in your heels a long time—invest in silicone metatarsal pads. They look like flattened gummy bears, but they do a super job of shock absorption, says Morin. "It's like replacing the fat padding you lost."
- Wear a thicker heel for stability. "A thicker heel will give you better balance and may help relieve some pressure by distributing the weight on your foot more evenly, says Morin. Alternating heel heights can also help reduce problems with the Achilles tendon.
- Pay attention to the "slope" or "pitch" of the heel. While some 4-inch heels will give you a straight drop down to the flatbed portion of the shoe, others will be a more gradual slope. This may be easier on the arch, says Morin, and might help relieve some pain in the ball of the foot.
- Wear open-toe high heels to relieve pressure on corns and calluses. See a podiatrist to have corns and calluses professionally removed and correct the problem that's causing them. But if that's not possible, opt for open-toe shoes to take pressure off inflamed areas.
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD On October 8, 2007