An easy trick to transform high heels into—dare we say it—comfortable footwear.

By Cassie Shortsleeve

Not all heels are created equal. So if you're wondering how to make high heels more comfortable, first consider this: The height of your heel—not the shape of the shoe (or the fact that it’s a heel)—is what’s likely behind your pain.

Meredith Leigh Ward, D.P.M., a podiatrist at Moore Foot and Ankle Specialists in Asheville, North Carolina says that most of the high heel-related pain she sees walk into her office can be traced back to sky-high shoes.

Why? “A heel above two inches or so puts tremendous pressure on the metatarsals, which are the bones behind the toes,” she explains.

And that pressure isn’t just uncomfortable—it can lead to inflammation, pain, stress fractures, or even pinched nerves, she notes.

But you don't have to swear off high heels altogether. It's possible to make high heels more comfortable. Just pay attention to how much lift you're getting. “Two inches is my cut-off,” says Ward. “A heel below that height does not add significant stress to the metatarsals as the weight can remain distributed between the heel and forefoot.” This also helps you stay balanced (read: no wipe-outs) in your kicks, she notes.

And if your feet hurt even when you’re not as high off the ground? Consider adding a pad to the forefoot of your heels or sticking a full insole inside your favorite pair. Try to take high heels off when you can, too (at your desk, for example).

To fend off the nastiest of new-shoe disasters—blisters—look for a low-heeled shoe with an ankle strap, suggests Ward. A strap not only secures your foot, improving stability, but it reduces the friction that can tear your skin.

Already too late? These special blister bandages are game-changers.

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