Building Endurance in High Heels

#1
My lovely wife has never been one to wear high heels. All her life she's always worn flat shoes. Until now. She recently bought her first pair of dance shoes.

She tried on many pairs and these were the ones that fit her best and best accomodate her high arch. The shortest heel in which this model was available is 2.5 inches, so that's what she bought.

After wearing her shoes for about an hour, her feet begin to get sore and tired and after about two hours, she has to switch back to flat street shoes if she wises to keep dancing.

We see other women dancing in heels as high as hers all night, so I assume it is possible for feet that have rarely been in high heels to become accustomed to them.

Is there anything my lw can do to build the endurance of her feet so she can dance longer in her heels?

-IJ
 

gracie

Active Member
#2
I sympathize as I used to dance endlessly in 3 inch latins, but as of the last year--no more. Here is what I have had to do. See an orthopedist to get properly diagnosed and have custom orthotics made. Have all heels cut down to 2 inches, not quite as sexy, but Hey--my feet don't hurt! I use practice shoes and save the heels for social dancing and competing. In addition to orthotics in my dance shoes I also wear gel metatarsal pads that I got from Footsmart catalogue. I never go barefoot anymore- even put my orthotics in my fuzzy slippers at home. (My Pro told me this one). Take antiinflammatories daily. I ice my feet after dancing if they hurt at all and- a miracle!!!!-- I awaken without foot pain! Yeaaaaa!! Hope some of this will be helpful.
 
#3
I, too, hated heels, and felt unsafe in them. My first pair were slim flare 2.75s, and they were nightmares. The second, 2.5 "flared" were MUCH better. I'm looking to replace these shoes (the ones that died) now, and in the meantime am using a 2 inch thick Cuban heel (a lot like a cowboy boot walking heel- very stable, not too high).

The first dance I started learning was cha-cha.

To somebody WAY OUT OF CONDITION for ANYTHING requiring physical exertion, just the VERY BASIC-est "2, 3, 4&1" basic step for thirty minutes was excruciating- my calves clenched and cramped, my toes curled, I could have died... but only repetition, POTASSIUM (gatorade, energy drink, however you can get hydration and potassium), and TIME cured it. Now the same dance we learned (at first we couldn't keep up!) seems so boring and slow, LOL. IN heels!
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
#4
Indiana_Jay said:
My lovely wife has never been one to wear high heels. All her life she's always worn flat shoes. Until now. She recently bought her first pair of dance shoes.

She tried on many pairs and these were the ones that fit her best and best accomodate her high arch. The shortest heel in which this model was available is 2.5 inches, so that's what she bought.

After wearing her shoes for about an hour, her feet begin to get sore and tired and after about two hours, she has to switch back to flat street shoes if she wises to keep dancing.

We see other women dancing in heels as high as hers all night, so I assume it is possible for feet that have rarely been in high heels to become accustomed to them.

Is there anything my lw can do to build the endurance of her feet so she can dance longer in her heels?

-IJ
hate to say it...dance more?maybe just not for as long....besides that...yes, stay hydrated...maybe get some high octane support hose (you can get them near the pharmacy area of any major retail store...but mainly it takes the foot a while to get acclimated to such an unfriendly thing....if worse comes to worse and you're not gonna compete....give up and buy practice shoes
 

mamboqueen

Well-Known Member
#5
Gracie - where did you get custom made orthotics for your dance shoes? And what are they correcting? I supinate and am thinking of getting them, at least to wear in my sneakers; I am not sure if putting the ones in my skinny/narrow dance shoes would fit properly in my sneakers, though. I would love to have ones for my dance shoes....


IJ - I think it's just going to take time acclimating to the heels. I have worn high heels pretty much straight since leaving highschool, so I"m quite used to them. Hey...why don't you treat her to a nice pedicure while she's getting used to them :)
 

Twilight_Elena

Well-Known Member
#6
I just recently went up to 3" heels (though I still wear my 2.5") so as to use in a choreography a pair of gorgeous 3" babies I just got. I therefore decided to wear only 3" till the choreography. Many of my friends say they can't bear the 3" heel, others don't see what the fuss is about and find them comfortable. Personally, I took them off after one hour of social the first time, then the second time I lasted longer, then the entire social, then I even lead in 3" heels!
Heel endurance depends on dance experience, on previous heel experience, correct footwork, stamina, how you treat your feet, whether or not you stretch yoru calves, etc. 2.5" heels are not outrageously high, not even close. She'll get used to them, eventually. :D Tell her to start slow, wear them for socials for as long as she can bear it and then take them off, same with lessons. Never neglect to stretch the calves, the higher the heel the more important it is. Eat fruit (not kidding, it helps with cramps and such).
At first, it feels like hell for most. Then you really get used to them. Don't worry about it. Good luck to both of you. :D

T_E
 
#7
wear them for every practice as long as you can stand, then take them off and switch, but diligently wear them, elongating the time you're in them.

i went from a lifetime of flat shoes to latin heels very quickly and just chalked up the pain to a necessary evil.
 

LXC

New Member
#9
I'd say try a lower heel, like 2''. It can make a huge difference.

I can't wear high heels; even the 2'' pumps gave me a lot pain and left lots of calluses and traumatized toenails in the first two years of dancing. Then I decided that it's not worthwhile to torture my feet and I switched to practice shoes. My feet are much much happier now. The only problem is getting used to high heels before a competition, but it's managable. Keeping my feet happy most of the time is a higher priority.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#10
Until recently, I've never had a problem with dance heels. I generally wear 2.5" for balroom and 3" or 4" for AT. The problem recently, though, I don't think has to do with the heels, but more the result of a dancing accident which I think was more serious that I originally gave it credit for.

That aside, I think the reason why it's never bothered me is because I've worn almost nothing but 3"-3.5" heels for the last 10 years or so. To get to that point, though, I did work up to it. I started with low heels (1.5"-2" or so) in high school, and just gradually increased the height. So, if she can wear heels consistently, outside of dancing, it would probably help.

The downside to this is that heels really aren't good for the feet, regardless, and with the required tightness of ballroom heels, it's a very good idea to give them a break when not dancing. Kind of a Catch-22, really.

Also, though, the type of pain she's experiencing can vary. If it's general soreness from carrying her weight more on the balls of the feet, well, there's not much to do about that other than resting the feet for a couple of days. If it's pain from the process of building up calluses, same deal. However, if she's experiencing joint pain, then I'd say to stay away from high heels altogether and find some nice practice shoes. Or stick with something with a 2" heel at the most, and plenty of room in the toe box.
 

gracie

Active Member
#11
mamboqueen said:
Gracie - where did you get custom made orthotics for your dance shoes? And what are they correcting? I supinate and am thinking of getting them, at least to wear in my sneakers; I am not sure if putting the ones in my skinny/narrow dance shoes would fit properly in my sneakers, though. I would love to have ones for my dance shoes... I took my prescription to a medical orthotics company that the orthopedist recommended. They can be made for dress shoes or tennis shoes. They are correcting the pressure on the ball of the foot where I have pain (metatarsalgia) and they have really worked. I even practice in 2 inch latins now! Gracie
 
#13
I would recommend trying something lower. A quarter of an inch in the heels can make a HUGE difference. I used to wear 2.5 slim heels, and had gone to 2.75. I can notice the difference immediately. Didn't like the extra height, so I went back to 2.5 silm heels from supadance. Then, as I try on more pairs of shoes, I switch to a different brand for dance shoes. They only make heels in 2.25 or 2.75 inches, so I have 2.25 inch flare heels now. Even though it's only a quarter inch different, it feels a lot lower, and it gives me a lot more balance. If your wife never had high heels, maybe she should start with 2 inches rather than 2.5.

It would also help to start wearing some 2.5 inch street shoes on a daily basis. But make sure those shoes are nice and well made.
 
#14
Thanks for your advice, everyone.

As to the frequent advice to wear lower heels, that's not as easy as it sounds. My lw tried on many pairs of dance shoes and only found one pair that comfortably accomodated her high arch (without digging into the tops of her feet). The lowest heel in which that model shoe is available is the 2.5 inch heel she bought.

But she wears heels so infrequently, that she can't even tolerate her lower-heeled street shoes for more than a couple of hours. She's just always been a flat-shoe woman and has never gotten accustomed to higher heels.

She really likes her dance shoes, however, especially how they bring her head a little further up my chest (she's rather short and I'm quite tall). So I think she'd like to keep dancing in them, even though we don't compete, if she can develop whatever muscles, etc. are required to better tolerate them.

Her main complaint seems to be fatigue in the balls of her feet, which are not accustomed to having as much weight on them as they do when she wears the higher heels.

Someone mentioned stretching and I'd be pleased to have more details on how such stretches should be done.

Regards,

Jay
 

pygmalion

Well-Known Member
#15
IMHO, getting used to dancing in heels is a lot like getting used to walking in heels. Ya just gotta do it. I think alemana's approach is a good one. Your wife needs to go easy at first, I think, while gradually increasing the amount of time spent in heels. That worked for me. :cool: :)
 

Twilight_Elena

Well-Known Member
#16
Feeling pain on the balls is something I dealt with when I first got higher heels (3") but it got considerably better after a while. I assume it's like building foot stamina. Maybe she could get some of those gel pads to put at the front of the shoes? They help a bit with thepain from ball pressure.
About calf stretches, I am talking about the good old calf stretches we've all done in high school gym. While standing, you bend over, grab your toes and flex your foot so that the calf muscle stretches. I really can't say it any better, maybe someone else can.

T_E
 
#17
Also pay attention to where the heel support is located. When I was fitted for my first pair of dance shoes, I had a wise old woman who told me that if the heel is behind most of my weight, the balls and toes would take a beating. If the support was more under my heel my weight would be over that support more and would be more evenly distributed. She also told me to gradually step up the heel height.

These ideas worked for me, but has nyone else heard this stuff?
 
#19

Peaches

Well-Known Member
#20
Whirling Dervish said:
Also pay attention to where the heel support is located. When I was fitted for my first pair of dance shoes, I had a wise old woman who told me that if the heel is behind most of my weight, the balls and toes would take a beating. If the support was more under my heel my weight would be over that support more and would be more evenly distributed. She also told me to gradually step up the heel height.

These ideas worked for me, but has nyone else heard this stuff?

ABSOLUTELY!!! I've got a 3" pair of street shoes which absolutely kill my feet to the point where I never wear them anymore. I've had other 3" street shoes which I could be in for HOURS in, and even jog in (for short periods of time) with absolutely no problem. The difference was the placement of the heel and the shape of the shoe itself.

With the uncomfortable pair, the heels are at the very back edge of the shoe. Sure, they look great, but it's completely pointless as far as supporting any weight, so it all falls to the balls of my feet and my toes. With my comfy ones (as well as my super-high AT shoes), the heel is further forward and supports the vast majority of my weight. The balls of my feet almost feel like they're just there for some stability and balance.

Thanks for bringing that up, I had completely forgotten about that little detail.
 

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