We’ve put together a list of our best hacks for making your uncomfortable shoes a little easier to bear… so please, don’t hate yourself for that impulse purchase just yet.
High heels: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they feature alone, or with a supporting cast in most women’s (and some men’s) wardrobes. By default, they suck a little, ok, a lot. Never have been that comfortable and maybe in the very near future they might genuinely be so, but until then, use our go-to guide to make them slightly less despicable.
Good ole Scotch Tape: Taping the third and fourth toes of each foot (counting from the big toe) helps to alleviate pressure on a particularly sensitive nerve that is found between these toes. Use nude color medical tape if you are wanting to try this strange look with sandals, otherwise, simple washi-tape or Scotch tape will work.
Maxi Pads: Believe it or not, maxi pads, the thickest, bounciest ones you can find; feel tons better than store-bought gel inserts with certain types of shoes. Booties in particular benefit from the extra padding. Apart from resting your foot on a soft and squishy bed, it has the added benefit of absorbing any foot sweat. Obviously not to be used with sandals or slides.
Strut: Wearing heels adjusts your gait and stance automatically- you’ll find your butt sticking out a bit more as your calve muscles are pulled taut, women tend to either hobble or take smaller steps in high heels. Practise adjusting your gait but take longer steps whilst swinging your hips- not unlike a model strutting down the catwalk- there’s a very good reason why models walk that way. You’re welcome.
Grit and bear it: Sanding the surface of your new shoes might seem a tad aggressive, I mean, you bought those shoes because you really really like the shiny red bottoms right? We get it, but sanding the bottoms of slick soles gives you more traction on surfaces like tiles or granite and definitely takes slipping off the list of heel-hazards.
Elevate your toes: Adding a piece of gel or felt metatarsal padding will take pressure of the balls of your feet somewhat. They may make your toes feel a bit squashed to the tops of your shoes, but will allow you spend more time standing in them- you can either DIY this or buy at a drugstore. Stuffing cotton balls under your toes will achieve the same effect.
Sandals: Where to start? Sandals are supposed to be the most comfortable option for everyone, but every now and again, a rather pretty pair will prove to have a vicious bite. Flipflops, in particular, can almost always be blamed for calluses and painful calves and crampy toes. Wiivv flip flops are different in that they support your arch and prevent you from slapping your feet on the ground-which is the main contributor to sore calves- when walking, as most other flip flops do. The ergonomic strap slides comfortably between your toes and won’t chafe. Rule of thumb when buying sandals is to always remember it should support the back of your foot (unless of course, you really want a slide/push in), also, a good footbed goes a whole lot further in support than an insert ever will.
Guard those toes: Silicone toe guard posts will be your NBF if you have sensitive skin between your toes that chafe easily. These can be found on Amazon or at the drugstore and are relatively cheap.
Skip the slip: Pain and tension in calves and arches can also be caused by your foot slipping in a sandal that has no back strap, keep things slightly steadier by wearing grippy pad inserts on the insole. Gel inserts add a little more bounce to your step.
Strap up: For straps that cause blisters and general unpleasantness, silicone straps, which look a lot like double sided tape are a blessing when the sensitive skin of your feet are yelling profanities at you. In a bind, double sided tape will work too but are a literal pain to pull off.
Protect the Pinky: This type of sandal is quite notorious for trying to force you to amputate your pinky toe- the overall structure of the sandal squeezes your toes to a point and the pinky comes off worse than the other toes. Save the pinky by either wrapping with medical tape or buying the super comfortable- albeit strange-looking- rubber toe caps. These are not suitable for styles that show off all your tootsies.
Make like a Dancer: Wedge sandals with broad straps can be helped along by wearing a ballet dancers ‘toekini’, an elasticated strap with holes for the toes have some padding right underneath the balls of the feet- the very same balls that take all the strain when you’re wearing wedges.
Get soaked: For gladiators or similar strappy styles, you have an option of moulding them to fit- provided it is real leather and nothing glittery or embossed. Wear the shoes, adjust to optimal fit and then spray a good amount of warm water on the tops of your sandals until it is pretty soaked. Now leave it to dry naturally on your foot and treat it with a high-quality leather cream and sealer after this exercise.
Brogues/Derbys/Closed Flats: The most common complaint with this style of shoe is that the top that stretches over the arch of the foot can pinch- the best way to deal with tight shoes is to have them stretched professionally (you know, so you can blame someone else if it goes wrong!)
Freeze: The simplest method of stretching out your shoes at home is to fill two plastic bags with water halfway, pop these into your shoes where they need stretching and store it in the freezer. As the water freezes, it will expand and thereby stretch out the offending bits with it.
Layer up: Sometimes a little extra goes a long way. If you find your feet fishtailing in your shoes even with an insert (Pro-tip: you need to get remeasured), try adding another, thinner insert on top of that, one with no pre-moulding.
Scratchy Eyelets: Sometimes, poor design means the eyelets of your shoe might be directly on your skin, easily smooth over the problem by sticking a strip of silicone that’s specific for sandal straps under the eyelet row.
Ballet Flats: This has to be the most common women’s footwear item ever made/sold/bought. Whilst they’ve saved many a party girl from ‘death by high heel-wearing’, they aren’t the best type of shoe to wear for a few reasons. There’s no arch support, it’s too flat, they often start smelling really foul if you wear them too often etc etc. However, we reckon they’re here to stay so let’s help you make the most of them.
Support yourself: Since these shoes are usually completely flat and offer no arch support, invest in a really good customised insole insert, a full shoe or just the arch bit will do- especially if you find that your lower back is achy after a day spent in your flats.
Blister buster: Wearing in a pair of ballet flats can be onerous and painful- the common pain points when wearing in a pair of these is usually the pinky toe area and the back of the foot. Protect both by using either thick plasters or medical tape in these areas. Prevent the dreaded pump-bump by always using a gel pad in the back of the shoe.
Scent up: Rubbing the entire surface of your foot with drystick underarm deodorant will prevent your foot from slipping and chafing too much and can definitely help in reducing the blister factor.
Workboots/ Hiking Boots: Many a brave human has succumbed to the feeling of throwing away these expensive but sometimes oh-so-necessary functional footwear. Buying a great quality brand cannot be overstressed… no matter how many good insoles you buy, how much leather conditioner you use, it’s still going to be a bad quality buy.
Sole Up: As with every other shoe, a good quality insole will literally add miles to your shoes. A customized one is the best choice
Fit Fit Fit: You’ll obviously be spending a lot of time standing and walking in these so make sure you buy a pair that fits well from the get-go. Buy your boots in the afternoon when your feet have swollen to its’ full size.
Sock It: Wearing thick socks or even double socks can provide extra comfort. Always wear contoured socks, the looser the sock, the more chafing and blistering possibilities there are
Running Shoes: According to most runners, it’s never about the distance or the speed of the run- it’s about how comfortable you make the run. We couldn’t agree more. Spend time in choosing the perfect running shoe and most importantly, change your running shoes as often as you need to.
No shocks: Running is a high-impact sport and will take its toll on your joints- soften the blow by investing in shock absorbing running shoes and further padding it with a customized shock absorbing insole.
Arch importance: If you’re happy with the fit and quality of your shoe, pay attention to how your arches feel after your run. If you’re feeling any tenderness there, use an arch support pad in the shoe.
Back it up: Heel support is primary to not causing the dreaded Achilles running blisters- a good heel grip will provide extra comfort and prevent your foot from moving too much as you strike up and down and can prevent chafing.