It is tempting to run out and purchase 4-inch heels to feel like a runway model. Wearing high heels allows a woman to appear taller and slimmer, but if she doesn't know how to walk in them, embarrassment will soon follow. Learn about high heels and how to walk in them to avoid falling.
Do You Have What It Takes?
Walking in heels requires confidence, good posture and strong legs and feet. If you are not active or do not walk often, even in flats, you will need to exercise more to build strength in your legs. Maintain awareness of your posture at all times, whether sitting, standing, bending over or walking, as this will affect your balance. Novice heel wearers should start with a heel no higher than 1 to 2 inches. Above all, avoid wearing an uncomfortable heel.
Anatomy of a Heel
Purchase a stable pair by knowing how a heel is constructed. The body holds the shoe against your heel and can cause blisters if not broken in. Either work the material with your fingers, lightly spray water on it, or wear the heels with thin socks and walk around your home. The heel breast is where the inside of the heel meets with the bottom of the shoe. This angle should curve forward towards the toes rather than going straight up, to prevent wobbling and give you better balance. Slippage often occurs when the outer sole, or bottom of the shoe, is too smooth. This will cause you to fall. Score the bottom with a key or spray hairspray on it to create traction. Finally, the toe box is where your toes sit. While square or rounded toe boxes are roomy, toes often become squished in pointed stiletto shoes. The material can be stretched out at a shoe repair shop.
How to Walk
There's no need to look down at your high heels when walking, so keep your head up and look ahead to see where you are going. As the heels push your weight forward, hold your shoulders back and maintain a straight posture. Move hips in a small figure-eight motion, not whipping them from side to side. Relax your knees and keep your legs close together though not clenched. Take short steps, with toes pointed forward. The foot will land balanced on the ball on the foot and heel instead of the normal heel-to-toe movement. Once the front foot is down, spread the toes to distribute your weight evenly.
Practice Makes Perfect
Before purchasing heels, practice walking around on the balls of your feet around the house. When shopping, test the heels by walking on both carpet and solid flooring as well as up and down stairs, if possible. The higher the heel, the more difficult this will be. Try on shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are more swollen, to ensure the right size. Once purchased, continue practicing and breaking them in to conform to your foot. Try the shoes on with your pants, skirts and dresses to check that no fabric gets caught under the heel or restricts your movement as you walk.
After a while, your feet will undoubtedly hurt. Painful feet affect your balance, increasing the potential for you to fall or injure yourself. Identify where the pain is and what is causing it. Continuous rubbing will cause chaffing, blisters and even bleeding. For straps that dig into the skin, or when the body rubs against the heel, thin bandages such as moleskin padding can be cut and affixed to the area to provide cushioning. Women with low arches can place a support in the inner soles to relieve pressure on the balls of the feet. Take the heels off once in a while to prevent long-term damage.