Painful to Walk in Heels? Expert Tips to Avoid Discomfort

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2 min read

walking in heels painful

Women in Hong Kong take glamour very seriously. Despite walking miles on pavement every day, many of us keep wearing high heels. As giving them up entirely is not an option, we spoke to Kevin Moore, a specialist in injury rehabilitation and sports performance, about some exercises we can do at home to get our stilettoed feet and legs in tip-top condition.


According to Moore, there are two major considerations for the woman who wants to hurt less and get more out of her time in heels: preparing to put them on and unwinding when they finally come off. This is serious and thorough advice. Get ready to master the art of wearing heels while minimizing discomfort!


Warming up so that you feel more comfortable in heels

The biggest issue the body faces while in heels is the loss of sensory information. The human foot is highly sensitive, and the feedback the brain receives from the sole of the foot and the skin around the shins and ankles is essential for comfortable movement.


This quick routine will stimulate the small nerve fibers in the skin with a range of sensations, from more to less aggressive and prepare your feet to strap on those heels.


Perform the following exercises for 20 seconds each:

  1. Use a comb or hairbrush to make light indentations in the skin on the soles of the feet and toes, around the ankles, and up the sides of the lower leg. Push hard enough to feel a firm pressure—not so much as to be painful, but enough that stopping feels like a relief (see video).
  2. Use the comb/brush to lightly abrade the skin around the same areas. Use measured, deliberate strokes; pressure should be something between a tickle and a mild scrape (see video).
  3. Run a dry terry cloth towel or washrag over the same area. Use minimal pressure; keep it playful and easy.
  4. Following these exercises, remain barefoot and take 10 to 20 slow, continuous steps. Focus your attention on the sensations in the soles of the feet and tips of the toes.

Watch video of Exercises 1. and 2.

After this short round of evidence-based pampering, the sensitivity in your feet should be dialled way up. Priming the brain’s awareness of the lower limb will help the body stay adaptive, even while the feet are temporarily bound inside a fun pair of heels.

Stretching after wearing heels to ease feet, legs and back

It’s important to stretch your body after you’ve been wearing heels for a long period. The exercise below stretches out your hip joint, all while you’re catching up on emails, watching Netflix, or having a glass of wine.

  1. Sit cross-legged on the floor. If that feels tight, place a prop under your seat to elevate and get more comfortable. You can elevate the knees with a prop, too!
  2. Now, take your non-dominant leg (same as your non-dominant hand) and rotate it in the opposite direction to the dominant leg, so that the knee is closer to the center of the body and the foot further away. The dominant foot should now be close to, or even touching the non-dominant knee. Again, use props under the seat or the knees to diminish any tightness in the hips.
  3. After 2-3 minutes, stand up and take 10-20 slow, barefoot steps and let the blood flow through the whole leg.

Wearing heels will always have physical consequences, but taking these small steps to reduce the strain high heels puts on your body can go a long way to getting you where you want to be.


Kevin Moore is a specialist in injury rehabilitation and sports performance and Founder of The Reembody Method ™, which delivers strategies for moving—and thinking—that allow people to live in their bodies with power, ease, and joy.

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This article was independently written by Healthy Matters and is not sponsored. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.

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