The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Wisdom with Age: Secrets to Wearing Stilettos without Wrecking Your Feet

Posted by on Thursday, August 14th, 2014


Women love their shoes… so much so that sometimes it hurts — literally! So when a podiatrist recommends that a woman simply “give up” her favorite pair of heels because it’s bad for her feet, the possibility of patient compliance is slim to none. Even people with the worst foot pain have confessed to “cheating” for a wedding or special event. What’s a podiatrist to do? Sometimes the best we can offer is to focus on damage control and try to minimize discomfort for our staunchest heel lovers.

stiletto pain
Our NY podiatrists get it… the shoes make the woman! Here are a few tips for minimizing stiletto pain.
Image Source: Matti Paavonen via

Wear Stilettos in Moderation

“I’m having a rough time accepting that I’ll never again be able to wear those beautiful sleek stilettos that I enjoyed when I was young — stilettos that my father accurately predicted would ruin my feet and aid in cultivating bunions and hammer toes,” wrote Laverne H. Bardy for The Huffington PostShe recalls a special function where nothing would do but strappy, high heel sandals. For a moment, she wavered; she realized these shoes looked amazing, but she couldn’t much walk in them, let alone dance. In the end, she said, “I bought the shoes, made an impressive first impression, then danced the night away… in stocking feet.”

While it is best to refrain from wearing footwear that might lead to injury and pain, we understand that it is difficult for some individuals to completely adhere to a no-stilettos lifestyle. We do recommend that any occasions one wears these shoes are as minimal as possible. Try to find a pair that is comfortable and fit well, and only plan to stay on your feet for a short time. And it’s always helpful to have a spare pair of shoes handy as a backup!

Strengthen Your Feet & Ankles

Over time, calf muscles tighten and shorten, tiny toe muscles weaken, and ankles become unstable. Bunions, hammer toes, metatarsal pain in the balls of the feet, and arch collapse complicate things. One way to combat these changes is to work them out, as you would any other part of the body. Do barefoot squats to work the toes and legs. Stretch your calf muscles each day by doing yoga poses like “the downward dog” or by shoving your toes up a wall and bending forward. Do single leg dead lifts to focus on improving your balance and ankle flexion.

Removable Footbeds

Have you invested in orthotic inserts? Then you know how dreadful it is to dress up for a special function and have to leave your precious insoles behind! The good news is that many online retailers are now offering advanced searches to help you find shoes with “removable footbeds” that can accommodate your orthotics, without sacrificing on style! See what has to offer.

Get a Little Extra Padding

As we get older, the fat pads in our feet gradually begin to thin out, as less collagen gets produced. If the balls of your feet are really aching, you can buy over-the-counter gel high heel pads to stick on your shoes and absorb a little more shock as you walk. (Here is a comfy, non-skid gel pad kit for closed-toe shoes and the economy brand “Foot Petals” as well.) On the extreme end, there are women who will go so far as to get collagen injections to encourage the body to start producing collagen again. We don’t perform any such procedures at The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine, but it is a so-called “secret of the stars.”

New York City Shoe Choice Assistance

Our experienced NYC podiatrists in Manhattan and Westchester are sensitive to your desire to look fashionable. We’ll work with you to find the best solution, given your lifestyle. Book an appointment today to discuss foot pain and shoe choice.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.