“How to walk in high heels?” is one of the most frequently-asked questions by visitors to this site – and from people in real life, too. It’s no secret that I love my heels, and while I don’t wear them exclusively (I’m not one of those shoe-lovers who’ll insist on wearing stilettos, no matter what the situation!), I do wear them on a pretty regular basis: which means I get to spend a lot of time answering the question, “But how on earth do you WALK in them?”
I’ll be honest: I really struggle to know how to answer this question. Some pairs of heels are definitely less comfortable than others, but in general, I’ve never found them difficult to walk in. I can’t remember ever “learning” how to walk in heels, either, which means that when people ask me how I do it, I always have to think about it for a bit, and try not to answer with, “Um, I just… walk?”
Today, though, I’ve had a good long think about the fine art of walking in heels, and I present to you my best tips on how to do it. I’d love to hear from other heel wearers on this, though, especially those of you who found walking in heels difficult at first, but figured out how to do it: what was your method?
Here are some of mine:
1. Work your way up
If you’ve never worn heels on a regular basis, a pair of 6″ stilettos probably isn’t the best place to start. Instead, go for something mid-height, and, once you’re used to walking in those, start to gradually work your way up. Thinking about it now, I reckon this is how I “learned” to walk in heels: I wasn’t aware of it as a learning process at the time, but I know the heels I considered super-high as a teenager, say, would feel pretty low to me now, so I think I started small and moved up without really noticing.
2. Go for thick heels rather than stilettos
In general, the thinner the heel, the harder it’ll be to balance on it, so when you’re still getting used to walking in heels, choose thicker, sturdier heels, which will give you more stability and confidence.
3. Platforms make high heels feel lower
Platform shoes might look higher than non-platforms, but they can actually be much easier to walk in, as the platform makes the heel feel shorter. A four-inch heel with a one-inch platform, for instance, will feel like you’re walking on a three-inch heel, which is a lot more reasonable!
4. Choose wedges for extra comfort and stability
If you’re really struggling to walk in heels, wedges are the high heels that don’t really feel like high heels. Because of the extra arch support, and the fact that the sole of the shoe is completely flat, they’ll give you height (sometimes a LOT of height) without forcing you to do much in the way of balancing. They’re the most comfortable type of heels to walk in, and also probably the easiest, so they make an excellent starting point if you’re completely new to the world of heels.
5. If the shoe fits…
…it’ll be a whole lot easier to walk in. Fit is particularly important with heels, because if you’re struggling just to keep them on your feet (or wincing in pain every time your foot hits the ground), you’ll find it practically impossible to walk in them. In fact, shoes that are constantly slipping off your heel can actually be dangerous, because you run the risk of stepping right out of them, or going over on your ankle. It’s almost too obvious to write down, but buy shoes that fit, and break them in around the house before wearing them on a big night out so you know you’ll be able to walk comfortably and safely in them.
6. Place your heel on the ground first
High heels don’t just make you walk taller, they also force you to walk differently. In flats, sneakers or flip flops, your full foot hits the ground more or less at the same time. In heels, however – and particularly in very high heels – this method won’t only feel uncomfortable and awkward, it’ll look like that, too. Instead, you need to adapt the way you walk so that your heel comes into contact with the ground first. This might take a bit of getting used to, which brings me to my next point…
7. Practice. Then practice some more.
If you’re not used to walking in high heels, it’ll feel very unnatural and awkward the first time you try it. And if you simply give up after that, and don’t try again for a few months or years, it’ll feel awkward and unnatural the NEXT time you try it, too… and the time after that, and the time after that. Practice is the key, and as silly as it might sound, you might find it useful to try to practice in front of a mirror (or get someone to film you, even): sometimes being able to see yourself walk will help you identify anything you’re doing wrong, and work out what you need to change. Don’t just practice walking in a straight line, either: make sure you try turning, changing direction,and going up and down stairs (hold the hand rail!). Walking downhill in heels can be the trickiest thing of all: take very small steps and lean backwards ever-so-slightly to keep your balance.
8. Baby steps
I’m not still talking about practising, or working your way up here, I mean literally take baby steps. Like it or not, you can’t really stride or run in heels (well, you can, but you’re probably going to want to wait until you’ve mastered the “walking” bit first!), and if you try to march along with your arms swinging by your sides, it might look a little bit unnatural. Again, being able to see yourself in a mirror will really help with this, and you should instantly be able to see what looks natural, and what doesn’t. In general, though, try to take smaller, slower steps than you would in lower shoes and don’t try to run before you can walk!
A lot of women have a tendency to hold themselves very stiffly when they’re walking in high heels. This is partly because of the different way your body moves in heels (your might think your feet and legs are doing all the work, but your lower back and abdomen are working hard too, and are often the first places you’ll feel the strain if you’ve been overdoing it), of course, but it’s also natural to stiffen up if you’re feeling off-balance. Try to relax: not only will it look more natural, it’ll also be more comfortable, and make you less likely to hurt yourself.
10. Consider other options
For my final point, I just want to make it clear that no one should feel like they HAVE to wear high heels. I’ve written this post in order to (hopefully) help those who WANT to wear them, but if they’re just not for you, then there’s no reason in the world to force yourself to wear them. It also goes without saying that if you have foot, leg or back issues, or any other kind of physical issue that would make heel-wearing difficult or dangerous, for the love of shoes, don’t wear them. Your feet are more important than any pair of shoes!
What about you? Any tips on how to walk in high heels? How did you learn?