9 Tips for Walking Better in Heels

by Julia Friedman

We've given you some tips on how to make high heels more comfortable, but actually walking in them is a whole other story. This story, actually.

Like learning any new skill, mastering the art of walking in high heels takes patience, practice, and a few practical measures. For instance, it's pretty important to make sure that you're wearing the proper size shoe. Seems straightforward enough, right? But you'll be surprised to hear that, in a study conducted by the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (and reported by The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists), 88 percent of American women are wearing shoes that are too small. That's a pretty staggering figure and points to a super simple change that can make a huge difference in how you walk in heels — not to mention that wearing the proper size shoes will improve your overall foot health.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Here's some expert advice from around the Web that'll help us all walk a little better in heels.

1. Size Matters

First and foremost, you want to make sure your heels (or any shoe, for that matter) are the proper size. If they're too big, your foot will slide around awkwardly. Too small and your foot will feel cramped, which'll make walking a pain — literally and figuratively. For the best fit, get your foot sized frequently. "Your foot size changes over the years, even as much as one full size, especially after having kids,"'s podiatry expert Dr. Catherine Moyer told StyleCaster. "Have your feet sized once a year, and do it if you’ve never had it done. . . . A lot of people think they’re a wide or vise versa, and they’re not, so definitely do that before you shop."


2. Pace Yourself

If you've never baked before, you wouldn't start out by baking a five-tier fondant-covered cake from scratch. No, you'd start with a box of Betty Crocker. The same applies when you're trying out heels. "If you’ve never walked in high heels before, don’t start out learning with 5-inch stilettos — that’s a recipe for pain and maybe even injury," College Fashion editor Zephyr Basine writes. "Try something smaller, like a 2-inch heel or wedge to get used to the feeling. You can always work your way up to your most killer heels."


3. Be Conscious of the Rest of Your Body

Victor Chu, a New York-based footwear designer who teaches a class about how to walk in high heels, boiled down the formula for "Engage your abs — this gives you poise and control. Walk heel to toe, which transfers impact to the leg instead of the ball of the foot. And relax your hips and knees so you'll be fluid and graceful." It's kind of like doing that thing where you pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. It seems impossible at first but then, eventually, you get into a rhythm.


4. Take Time-Outs

"Whenever and wherever you can, sit, sit, sit!" ANTM 's J. Alexander told Glamour. There's no shame in taking a seat now and then. It'll give your feet a chance to rest so when you are on your feet, you'll be able to walk more comfortably.


5. Let The Music Move You

You don't think about every step you take when you're walking in flip flops or flats, so try not to think too hard about the way you walk in heels. Concentrating too hard will make you look awkward. Instead, think about walking to a beat. "It’s about having a little spring in your step," model casting director Natalie Joos told Time . "If you walk to the subway and put your headphones on and walk to music . . . listen to the rhythm and walk to the beat. Feel like you’re dancing, almost.” Feel like you're on the set of your own biopic.

Proof that it's possible to dance in heels. (Image:

6. Look For Sturdy Soles

Paper-thin soles don't provide great support for your feet. If possible, choose a style that's made with a more substantial material. "You want a thicker sole or a little bit of a platform, which will offset some of the pressure when you’re walking," Dr. Catherine Moyer told StyleCaster. "A rubbery kind of material will absorb that pressure."

This heel has shock-absorbing features like an elevated sole and padded footbed. Plus, a rounded toe is always more comfortable than a pointed one.

MICHAEL Michael Kors Flex Pump, $99, Amazon

7. Slow It Down

Heels aren't worn in gym class for a reason, so take your time when you're walking in them. "Wearing heels naturally makes your stride shorter, so you’ll need to take more steps than usual," Basine wrote on College Fashion. "Don’t expect to be able to walk as fast as you normally do in high heels."


8. Break In The Bottoms

J. Alexander gave another tip to Glamour : "Scratch the bottom of your soles with sandpaper." It seems like a strange idea to purposely rough-up a brand new pair of shoes, but slick soles don't provide any traction on surfaces like hardwood and tile. To mitigate this problem, scuff them up a bit. If you don't have sandpaper, stroll up and down a sidewalk instead.

9. Get Some Over-The-Counter Help

There are plenty of products available at the pharmacy that'll give your feet some extra support. "They are called metatarsal or ball of the foot pads," Dr. Catherine Moyer told StyleCaster. "Especially if it’s made of silicone, it will hold your foot more steady in the shoe so your feet aren’t sliding forward as much, which will protect your toes from friction and blisters." Fewer blisters means that you'll be able to walk more comfortably. Stick soft Metatarsal Pad Felt on your feet to reduce a bit of the pressure that's placed on the balls of your feet.

And if you're still struggling, this should make you feel better: