High heels look lovely, don’t they? There’s something so stylish and glam and sleek about them. They make you stand tall, look resplendent and somehow manage to instill a kind of inner confidence and power that no other footwear comes close to achieving. But it’s one thing being able to stand in heels and an entirely different thing being able to walk in them.
No matter whether you’re wearing gorgeous gold heels on a girls’ night, cute kitten heels for a posh day out, smart court shoes for work, or sky high stilettos for date night, after a few hours of wearing them your feet can feel restricted, achy, and sore. However, just like we had to learn to walk as a baby, we need to learn to walk in heels. Because the fact is we do walk differently in heels, and they change the position of our entire body into one that we’re not used to. And it can feel strange at first.
Whether you’re new to wearing heels, have had a gap from wearing them, or even if you’ve been wearing them for years, we’ve got some great tips that will help you walk in heels with confidence, with comfort, and without the risk of twisting your ankle. Let’s take a look!
Take Small Steps
The golden rule when it comes to wearing and walking in heels is the higher the heel the smaller the steps you should take. Your feet aren’t used to being in the position and angle that high heels put them in, and it can make us feel unbalanced and as though we might fall over with every wobbly step we take. It will feel strange at first, after all everyone has a natural stride length that they’re used to walking at, but by taking smaller steps it not only forces you to slow down, it will also feel more comfortable and will make your walk appear more natural too.
Walk Heel To Toe
There is a strong temptation to walk on the balls of your feet or to place the whole foot down when you walk in heels. But this isn’t what you would do when wearing flats and isn’t what you should do when wearing heels either. Make a conscious effort to put your heel on the ground first, followed by your toes. And once your weight shifts to the ball of your foot almost as though you’re on tip toes use the motion to push forward for the next step and repeat. Now obviously this isn’t something that will come naturally, and you may have to really concentrate on this movement to begin with. But the more you practice this mindful way of walking the better and the more confident you’ll be walking in heels.
Take Your Time
Let’s not run before we can walk, OK? Trying to walk too quickly in heels is not only dangerous (you’re way more likely to trip if you’re rushing), but it also makes you look kind of ‘tottery’ and awkward. For a more natural looking gait, walk at a much slower pace. Aside from anything else, walking slowly in heels oozes sophistication and confidence. It looks way better entering a room like that rather than falling flat on your face because you’ve taken it too fast. Just remember to factor in more time if you’ve arranged to meet someone and you know you’ll be heading there in heels.
Lean Back Slightly
Good posture is essential when it comes to feeling as though you can walk correctly in heels. The change in position that wearing heels creates means your centre of gravity shifts and this can make you feel unbalanced and wobbly. There are things you can do to correct this shift in position to help make you feel more in control. For example, by leaning ever so slightly backwards as you walk, by bending your knees slightly, and by keeping your arms relaxed at your side. A strong core helps in all areas of life, but will also make walking in heels a lot easier too. Activities such as yoga and Pilates are great for strengthening the core and helping to promote good posture, so if you want to wear heels regularly it’s worth signing up to a class or two.
When you think about how models walk down the runway in their heels, they’re looking forwards and in a straight line. And whilst you’d look a bit out of place strutting down the high street like that, there is some useful advice we can take from this way of walking. You’ll walk far more gracefully in heels if your gaze is focused forwards rather than towards the ground. The temptation to look down will be strong, you’ll be desperate to look out for any potential pitfalls, but ignore this and instead focus your gaze to a point ahead of you. Walk slowly, practicing your heel to toe walk, all the while focusing forwards and you will both look and feel better about walking in heels.
Wear The Right Size
To increase your chances of being able to walk in heels comfortably it’s important to make sure you wear the right size shoe. Now, I know that seems obvious, but trust me it happens. When I was in my twenties, I thought nothing of buying shoes that were too small for me, simply because they were the last ones in the sale and I just had to have them. But of course it backfired, because I’d wear them and within half an hour I’d have blisters and my toes were cramping up, so I’d fling them off and spend the rest of the night dancing barefoot. And even if you’re not as stupid as I was, and you buy shoes in your size, you’d be surprised how sizes can vary between different styles of shoes. Plus, although our feet stop growing in length as adults, they do tend to widen as the arches lose elasticity. You should always try a new pair of heels on before buying them, and make sure you take them for a walk around the shop to get a good feel for them. And remember, shoes that are too big are as bad as shoes that are too small. When your feet slip in and out of them not only will this cause rubbing and potential blisters, but there is also a greater chance that you may slip and twist your ankle in them.
Think About Heel Height
Learning to walk in heels is a process. You can’t expect to go from wearing flat as a pancake flip flops to suddenly being capable of wearing 6-inch high stilettos. It’s a good idea to start off with a low heel and slowly increase the height as you get used to wearing them. Likewise, think about the width of the heel, ideally getting used to something like a wedge or a block heel before progressing onto something thinner and pointier. Walking well in heels has a lot to do with balance. Lower, blockier heels place less stress on the balls of the feet, therefore giving you more support and causing less discomfort.
Walking well in heels takes practice. Lots, and lots of practice. Before you even step into a pair of heels it’s a good idea to practice walking around your house on your toes. This helps get your feet used to the position they’ll be in when they’re in heeled shoes and will also help strengthen your calves in the process.
When you do get a new pair of heels, it’s worth wearing them indoors for a while before taking them for a walk outside. This helps to wear the shoes in, by softening them and giving them the opportunity to mould to the shape of your feet. And don’t just practice walking in them, try dancing, squatting, getting up from a chair, walking up and down stairs, even just standing in them. Practice any movement you’ll likely be doing when you wear your heels out so that then you can be prepared for what it will feel like.
It’s also a good idea to practice walking on different surfaces, as it can feel very different walking on a hard polished surface or a pavement versus carpet or grass. Walking on different surfaces will also help to scuff up the soles of the shoes, which although you might think is a bad thing it actually helps create friction and therefore makes the shoes less slippy to walk in.
Increase Your Ankle Strength
It’s not just your feet that can suffer when you walk in heels for long periods of time, it also puts a lot of strain on your ankles too. So, one way to feel more comfortable in heels is to strengthen your ankles. You can do this with just a few simple exercises, such as standing calf raises, single leg balance, squat jumps, and ankle rolls. Regularly doing these exercises will help strengthen your ankles as well as giving your feet a good stretch workout too. The stronger your ankles and feet, the easier you will find it to walk in heels and the less likely you will be to twist or roll your ankle when wearing them.
It is possible to walk safely and comfortably in heels, it is simply a question of following the advice above and taking it steady. Most importantly, we need to take good care of our feet, after all they’re the things holding up the rest of our body, so after a day spent in heels make sure you treat them to a soak in the bath, a foot rub, and the comfiest pair of fluffy socks you can find.