Saturday, June 4, 2011

Discussion: Shoe fitting and shoe care remedies, part 1

You may remember that a while ago, I wrote this post of a list shoe issues that I have had in the past.  I have been very busy, so there has been a bit of delay on this shoe blog post series.  Sorry!  Instead of spanning over a week, I will span these posts over the month of June.  I hope you enjoy it!

Today's topic is comfort.  High heels, though they look pretty, may not be the most comfortable things to wear and depend on to hold your entire body weight up for hours on end.  Wearing heels take a lot of leg muscle, strong ankles, and good balance.  Beauty may be painful, but it doesn't have to be.  There are several things you can do to make a heel more comfortable and wearable.

Do you guys remember the PBS kids show called, Barney?  There's a segment on there where Barney magically makes a Barney Bag appear and inside the bag is all the things the kids need for whatever craft.  This is my Barney Bag:

It looks like a regular DSW bag, but don't let looks deceive you!  Inside is my supply of Shoe Doctor secrets...

Alrighty, on to the Q & A:

1) My heel slips out of my shoe, so I'm forced to walk with tiny steps while trying to still look elegant.
My heel slips out of my shoe all the time! I have narrow heels so I have done much research on this topic. The best way to prevent heel slippage is to add a heel grip to your shoe. I have several favorite heel grips depending on my needs.

If my shoes fit well (no major sizing issues, just not enough heel grippage), and I just need something to keep my heel in, I turn to these heel grips:

From left to right: Fancy Feet heel grips (from Marshalls), Suede heel liners from Walmart, Georges gel heel liners from Walmert.

- I got the Fancy feet heel grips, 3-pack from Marshalls for $6.99 (I believe it usually retails for $12.99). These are thinner heel grips and they usually come in many different colors/patterns. They have a smooth texture and are excellent at wicking away moisture. Heel grips that are similar to these are the Foot Petals heavenly heels (available here), which I think are overpriced. Foot petals also makes the products for the Fab Feet brand, which are exclusively available at Target. In my opinion, Foot Petals and Fab Feet are of comparable quality. I use Fab Feet heel grips in my Kaylas from Sole Society:

- The suede liners are one of my new favorites. They are only $2.50 a pair. They are a bit thinner than the Fancy Feet/Fab Feet heel grips so I use them for shoes that are of perfect length but I just need help keeping my heel in when I want to walk fast.

- The polka dot heel liners are also from Walmart. I got these for around $4 for the 2-pack. These alone aren't great heel grips, they are really more of a liner than a gripper. BUT I find they are good for when your shoes are much too big for you and adding 1 heel grip is not enough to shorten the length. I put one of these on first and then layer with a Fab Feet heel grip. Because the polka dot heel liners are made of gel, they are very comfortable and malleable for any heel shape.

When I have shoes that are 1/2 size too big, I bring out my strongest reinforcements:

On the left is gel heel grips from Payless, they are $5.99 each, pricey I know. However, I have never found any other heel grip that works so well for keeping 5"+ heels that are too big on my feet. With many heel grips, I feel them as I walk. These gel heel grips do not bother me at all! The surface is textured for extra security (think millions of tiny suction cups).

On the right is my most used heel grip. They are from DSW (a similar one is available at Payless but I like the adhesive on the DSW versions better) for $3.99 for 2 pairs. They are extra thick, which makes them perfect for use on shoes that are 1/2 size to 1 whole size too large for you.

Putting heel grips on your shoes is a big commitment! Do not do it unless you are absolutely sure that you want to keep them. The adhesive from the heel grip will stay on your shoe FOREVER. It's very hard to get the adhesive off. I've yet to find a good way to do it. Of all the heel grips I've presented here, the ones with the least abrasive, least sticky adhesive are the ones from Foot Petals/Fancy Feet/Fab Feet. If you think you will be re-selling your shoe in the future, my suggestion is to take the original adhesive off the heel grips (if possible) and use double stick tape to place the grips on your shoe, which would be easier to take off down the road than the original adhesive. Double stick tape is awesome!

If you're wondering why I have so many kinds of heel grips...It's because my right foot is longer than my left foot.  They both have different needs, thus I need different type of heel grips.

2) My shoes have no cushioning whatsoever! By the end of the day, I’m limping around and with every step I’m muttering, “Ow. Ow. Ow!”
If you're wearing heels, the source of your pain is most likely from basically standing on your tippy toes all day. In this case, the best thing you can do is to add a cushion to the front of your foot, just under the balls of your foot. My all time favorite forefoot cushion is the heart-shaped cushion from Fab Feet (available at Target, you can get a 3-pack for about $13).

I love the heart shape because the shape is perfect for shoes with thong straps (the kind that goes in between your toes). Also, the top of the heart is excellent at massaging my feet. Fab Feet, as well as Foot Petals (available here) also make the more traditional non-heart shaped cushions, but I think the heart shaped ones are more cushion-y.

Your pain may also be from your shoes rubbing your skin. In this case, see my answer to the next question ;-)

If it's your heel that is hurting at the end of the day, I recommend gel heel cups (found at many convenience stores), just beware that the heel cup may raise your foot higher in your shoe so the fit of the shoe may change.

If you're not fond of sticking thing in your shoe (it is a lot of committment and remnant adhesive is not cool), I recommend investing in some gel cushions that use suction to stay in the shoe.

The full foot gel cushion if by Fab Feet (at Target, ~$10) and the forefoot cushion is from Payless ($6).

 3) My shoe straps dig into my skin, after a few hours or minutes of wear, I start chanting to myself, “Just grin and bear it. Just grin and bear it...” and 4) My shoes give me blisters! Which leads to ugly feet, and then I can’t show them off in sandals during the summer. 
Blisters from harsh straps or just painful rubbing are awful and may force you to take a vacation from your pretty-shoe-wearing ways. One way to prevent blisters is to use a lubricant, this page has some suggestions. However, if you're like me, I don't want to put anything wet on my foot that can potentially damage the material of my shoes. What I use to prevent blisters is moleskin, like this one from Dr. Scholls (about $5 from Target):

You can put the moleskin directly on your skin (kinda like a band-aid, actually band-aids are good for blister prevention too but I find moleskin is more comfortable and flexible). I like to put the moleskin directly on my shoes.

I used moleskin on my JS denim sandals where it rubs my toes the wrong way:

I even used it on my Marco Santi Mochie sandals where the straps cross, which use to cause squeaking when I walk:

The moleskin (the Dr. Scholl's moleskin is not really made from moles, it's actually soft-spun cotton) can be cut to any size, including thin straps. There are also gel cushions that are made specifically for strappy shoes, but I find moleskin stays in place better and is more comfortable. I also like to use moleskin to prevent chafing from zippers, which seems to be ever so popular on shoes these days.

Well, that is all for now. I look forward to the 2nd post in this series, which I hope to put out next week. If you have any other comfort questions, leave a comment and I will reply to the best of my experience. The Shoe Doctor is always in.

- C.

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