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For Dio

I'm feeling singularly uninspired at the moment. My life, it is Teh Bore. Seriously, nothing ever seems to happen around here. Although I do wonder what those fighter planes and helicopters were doing flying in formation overhead this afternoon...probably on their way to an air show or something. A pretty sight, but oh! the noise!

Anyway, diachrony tells me she's thinking of trying out high heeled footwear sometime soon, and wondered if I might have a few tips on the subject of How To Walk In Heels.

Well, the first thing I can think of, is to learn to stand in (high) heels. If you've always worn flats, the first time you put on heels they may cause you to feel slightly unbalanced. Take your time, and remember that as always, but in wearing heels in particular, posture is very important -- stand up straight. Get comfortable, and find your balance, dividing your weight evenly on the heel as well as on the ball of your foot. Keep your legs together, and keep your ankles and knees straight.

When you move, take smaller steps than you would if you were wearing trainers, and plant your feet firmly on the floor, coming down on the heel, rolling off on the foot. Try not to come down on the side of your foot -- this can be painful, or lead you to twist your ankle. Don't bend your knees too much, or more than you normally would; if you feel you have to in order to keep your balance, your heels are simply too high for you, and the resulting walk will not only be difficult, but ungainly as well. The whole point in wearing heels, is to make it look effortless and graceful.

And for that, you have to take care to choose the proper shoes! In learning to walk in heels, don't immediately go for the 6 inch high strappy sandal but instead, choose a shoe that offers some kind of support to your ankle and leaves enough room in the toebox for you to exercise a sufficient grip (my recent bouts with sciatica, leaving me with a numbed feeling in my forefoot, have taught me how important a part toes play in keeping you upright!). Also, it may be a good idea to start with a modest heel height and work your way up as you get more confident -- it feels different walking in 2 inch heels from walking in 4 inch ones, and there's a world of difference between 4 inches and 6 inches, too.

Come to think of it, you're lucky in that wedges are currently en vogue: they offer the height, but also a greater sole surface, which makes it easier to walk without having to worry about your heel being bent out of shape. If you're going for pumps, steel reinforced heels are better (sturdier) than wooden or plastic ones. Plus, they make a nice ticking sound when you walk. ;-)

What else? Oh yes: heels aren't meant for soft or uneven surfaces, so stay off the grass if you're taking a stroll through the park. When climbing the stairs, use only the sole to land on each step; but when going down the stairs, put both heel and sole down and do this slightly sideways (as most steps won't offer enough room to plant your whole foot on them). It's also best to stay near the bannisters. If you happen to wear a long(ish) skirt with your heels, take care not to step on the hem -- this can easily happen when going up stairs so it's best to lift it up a little.

And finally, to help prevent the burning sensation you can get on the balls of your feet when you're having to walk in heels for a long time, gel cushions are a good idea.

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Comments

( 24 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )
bogwitch
Jun. 30th, 2006 11:13 pm (UTC)
::hugs trainers::
gamiila
Jul. 1st, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC)
:-D

Those red ones? I like those!
bogwitch
Jul. 1st, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC)
They have nice arch support.
enigmaticblues
Jul. 1st, 2006 12:07 am (UTC)
All good things to know. Thanks for posting this!
gamiila
Jul. 1st, 2006 01:14 pm (UTC)
Glad to be of service!
kassto
Jul. 1st, 2006 04:22 am (UTC)
That's great advice. You are clearly a woman of style. I really like the wedges and do find them easier than a stiletto to walk in. And I have a pair of high-heeled boots that have a heel that is very narrow when viewed from the side but a lot wider when viewed from the back and that gives better support too. But I don't find them easy to walk in for any long period but fine for wearing at work. I always thought it was very sensible when the trend started, I think in NYC in the '80s, for chic women to be seen wearing trainers as they walked to work, with their lovely high heels in their handbags to change into.
gamiila
Jul. 1st, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC)
I always thought it was very sensible when the trend started, I think in NYC in the '80s, for chic women to be seen wearing trainers as they walked to work, with their lovely high heels in their handbags to change into.

Strangely enough, that's never caught on over here, though I can see the sense in it and the added bonus of keeping your heels in better condition -- maybe women over here think they've got enough stuff to carry without adding their shoes to it? Myself, I do do it that way sometimes but then feel very conspicuous! ;-)
curiouswombat
Jul. 1st, 2006 10:18 am (UTC)
I must sit my daughter down and get her to read this, to help her cope with her desire to wear heels but her trepidation in doing so. If she reads you saying that everybody might feel slightly unbalanced it would help - she has a balance problem and so definitely feels a bit unsure, but thinks it is just her.
gamiila
Jul. 1st, 2006 01:12 pm (UTC)
If she reads you saying that everybody might feel slightly unbalanced it would help

But it's true, isn't it? Even I, if I haven't worn them for a while, have to get used to them again. Okay, in my case it only takes a minute or two, but the principle is the same.

I learned to walk in heels when I was 13. My Mum got me some Mary Jane-type shoes from the market, with quite sturdy looking 3 inch heels -- but appearances were deceptive: the heels were made of cast rubber. It meant I would fall over every time I literally put a foot down wrong. Mum knew this and only let me practice on them in the house and when she was around. I learned quickly, but personally I wouldn't recommend anyone else do it that way - far too dangerous. Though it might not be a bad idea for Kat to begin by wearing her heels around the house and maybe for short walks to the cornershop and back to start with, until she's entirely comfortable with them.

Also, if finding your balance is a problem, I always feel it helps if you imagine you were wearing a pair of those old-fashioned stockings with a seam running down the back in them. If you can imagine that seam carrying on through the middle of the heel down into the floor, you'll be able to improve your posture and naturally divide your weight...if that makes any sense?
__kali__
Jul. 1st, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC)
There's so much to remember. *sticks to flat shoes*
gamiila
Jul. 1st, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC)
Ach, it becomes second nature after a while. I had to rack my brain to come up with this many recommendations! ;-)
diachrony
Jul. 1st, 2006 07:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this, Gamiila! These tips are very helpful.

It's been so many years since I wore heels. I remember I had wedges as a teen and I'm glad they're back in fashion. I haven't purchased any yet, but I did get some cheap, very high platforms just for fun and to "practice" in ... I suppose they're almost "stripper" shoes actually. One concern is having arthritic knees which makes it already difficult going downstairs, so I'll need to be extra careful there.

I vividly remember wearing heels to a funeral and their sinking deep into the ground with each step. I have balance problems already, and that experience was one of the reasons I decided to give up heels altogether! Trying them again now seems a bit exotic and not quite as bad as I remembered, but I haven't yet worn heels for more than about an hour at a time.

I've found some interesting information by googling "how to walk in high heels" and I already purchased some of these innovative new gel cushions, which look excellent (haven't tried yet though): Insolia high heel inserts

There are also Foot Petals, very popular with the Hollywood set and look very comfortable ...

I can't remember where, but I read a comment doing all this googling that Yamuna Foot Savers were unbeatable when it came to keeping feet in good shape if one wears high heels often. I also heard a lot of fantastic things about Yoga Toes at a fitness community I visit occasionally. I try to use these a few times a week, and they're supposed to be wonderful for sciatica and various forms of foot pain. There are a lot of informative links to follow - although I think you can find a better price elsewhere. I hope all these things are available in the UK in case anyone's interested ...

You can see I'm doing a lot of theoretical research. The actual wearing of heels out in public, though ... I've been too chicken to attempt it, yet! And as you've mentioned, balance and standing up straight is important, and one wants it to look graceful and effortless. I see far too many women clump-clumpetying along in heels and I dread doing the same thing. :P

Thanks so much for the "user's guide"! ... off to put in "Memories" section ...

gamiila
Jul. 1st, 2006 08:15 pm (UTC)
I vividly remember wearing heels to a funeral and their sinking deep into the ground with each step.

Well, you can get around on grass but you'd have to almost walk in tiptoe, to keep the heel from sinking into the surface. It's not recommended to do this for any extended length of time, though.

Thanks for having found all those handy links, although I have to say, that you won't need the Insolia high heel inserts in order to shift 'your weight back to the heel where it belongs' if you've mastered the art of walking in high heels properly -- i.e. without shifting forward in your shoe (which can happen when the heel is too high -- you tend to slide forward to get a better grip) -- though I'm sure they're great for comfort! Also, it seems to me that it's already too late by the time you think you may need those Yoga Toes...The idea is not to get bunions or hammertoes in the first place, and that means making sure your shoes fit without pinching and chaving and squeezing your toes into the points in a bid to make your feet look smaller (which never works, anyway).

A cheaper alternative to the Yamuna Foot Savers is to just do a few pointing and stretching exercises before and/or after wearing heels; to pick things up with your toes; and maybe borrow one of your pets' soft toys to roll under your feet -- if you have pets, that is. ;-)
diachrony
Jul. 1st, 2006 08:45 pm (UTC)
No pets at the moment, sadly.

I have a fondness for these little expensive fitness-type toys, can you tell? I like the Yoga Toes - they're not just for folks who wear heels, but I imagine would be very relaxing to stretch out the feet after wearing them. I wouldn't have expected them to be so worthy, but read far too many unsponsored testimonials at the fitness forum and was sold. Of course, you're right that one doesn't *have* to spend money on these extra toys ... but I like them ...

One of the scary things I've come across is cautions about the calf muscle becoming foreshortened with regular heel-wearing. I'm sure that's nothing for me to worry about as I'll probably still spend most of my time in flats!
gamiila
Jul. 1st, 2006 09:29 pm (UTC)
Yes, I think you need to keep a healthy balance between wearing heels and wearing flats, and everything will be alright.

Of course, you're right that one doesn't *have* to spend money on these extra toys ... but I like them ...

And why shouldn't you indulge, if that's what you like? Me, I like to pamper my feet every week or so -- a nice long soak in a herbal bath, after which I cut and paint my toenails, and take out the pumice stone, finishing it all off with a good dollop of cream. Totally unnecessary, but such a lovely way of spending me-time! ;-)
diachrony
Jul. 1st, 2006 09:39 pm (UTC)
Oh yes - I just did something similar last night! A long soak in a bath with scented oils, and pumicing down the rough spots on my feet. I normally just take showers. Feet really can't be pampered or groomed properly in a shower.

Do you find you do a better job on yourself than what you'd get in a salon? I've noticed the rare times I'll do it myself, I always manage to get my feet looking better than the pedicurist does ... except for the actual polishing bit, where I'm not as neat as the professionals. I don't do it often enough to improve my technique!
gamiila
Jul. 1st, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
Do you find you do a better job on yourself than what you'd get in a salon?

I don't know, I've never been to a salon...

::is very European::

Over here, pedicurists tend to work on old people's feet, on referral from their GPs...The home my Dad is in has a resident (semi-resident) pedicurist, and he's very happy with the care she's giving him, but then, he has horrific feet...
diachrony
Jul. 1st, 2006 10:18 pm (UTC)
My mom really needs a podiatrist to look at her feet, and then one of those regular pedicurists, but since she doesn't, I have to help with her grooming occasionally. It's a harder job than one would think. I don't want mine to end up in such awful shape, which is why I'm spending more time on them!

I'll just enjoy thinking of myself as being very European when I pamper my own feet. ;-)
gamiila
Jul. 1st, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
Hmmm...I don't know...I like to think that one day I'll pluck up the courage to act very New World-ish and have someone do my feet for me. But I have to get them in ship-shape condition myself first!

(Last year, I was tempted to have a go when I had an hour to spend in Macy's and there was an empty seat at the salon there...but was embarrassed by the dusty state of my feet after having spent a whole day scuffing up the sidewalk in New York, so I gave it a miss).
vegmb
Jul. 3rd, 2006 04:38 pm (UTC)
That was excellent. I have only tried to teach one person to walk in heels and did so by demonstration. However, I do tend to take very long strides, even in heels, and have even been known to run in them.

And you life is never boring.
gamiila
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:32 pm (UTC)
I haven't tried to recently, but there was a time I could run in my heels, too!
vegmb
Jul. 3rd, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
I figured you could, though it is not something for a beginner to attempt. :)
miss_fairfax
Jul. 4th, 2006 09:26 am (UTC)
I wish I were as heels-comfy as you...I always feel like I'm on stilts or something, even with little kitten heels! I think I might invest in some gel cushions, like you said...
gamiila
Jul. 4th, 2006 02:07 pm (UTC)
You'll not regret it, I'm sure. Those gel cushions are not that expensive, and they really do work.
( 24 Speak Like A Child — Shout To The Top )

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