Home Health & Fitness Can You “Train” Your Feet To Wear High Heels?

Can You “Train” Your Feet To Wear High Heels?

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Can You “Train” Your Feet To Wear High Heels?

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When you think of adjectives to describe high heels, most people probably wouldn’t say “comfortable.” High heels can be classy, fashionable, and some might even say sexy — but generally speaking, high heels are not the poster child for comfort. In a recent interview on The Cutting Room Floor podcast, however, Law Roach, the iconic stylist to Zendaya (among other celebs), explained that the actor has “trained” her feet, and is now able to wear some of the most notoriously painful high heels out there all day long.

Now, it’s no secret that Zendaya always kills it in the fashion department, but if you look carefully, as interviewer and podcast host Recho Omondi points out, Zendaya’s shoe choice is somewhat repetitive: she’s always in a pair of Christian Louboutin So Kate pumps. Roach then notes these heels are “one of the most versatile shoes, but also one of the most painful,” later explaining that Zendaya has worn So Kate’s practically every day (or at least at every event) since she was 14 years old — so often, that’s she’s now “trained” her feet. The result? The “Challengers” star can now wear them through anything.

The interview has since gone viral with people sounding off in the comments, noting, “So Kate’s are not for the weak,” and “Zendaya suffers for the art,” but is it really possible to train your feet to be comfortable in a particular type of heel, or even heels in general? And is it healthy to wear heels every day? Ahead, POPSUGAR fact-checked the viral video’s claim with a podiatrist.

Can You Train Your Feet to Wear High Heels?

Short answer: probably not. “By definition, a high-heeled shoe places the foot and ankle in an improper anatomical position,” says Sidney Weiser, DPM, a podiatrist and founder of Quality Podiatry. As a result, the heel places unnecessary pressure on the forefoot and ankle, increasing instability of the ankle and heel, in turn, upping the risk of injury, he explains. And because of the instability and unnatural position that heels force your foot into, it’s unlikely that your feet can actually be “trained” to wear pumps, Dr. Weiser says. After all, POPSUGAR previously reported that no one has feet perfectly shaped to fit the form of a high heel.

With that being said, you can get used to, or more skilled at, wearing high heels, Dr. Weiser says.

That may be why Zendaya is able to strut (rather than hobble) in her So Kates. Over time, she may have developed gait modifications or strategies that let her walk — and even dance, kick, and run down stairs, according to Law Roach — without a problem.

But while Roach said Zendaya’s able to wear the heels all day, he didn’t necessarily say she was totally pain-free. A 2024 study in the journal Scientific Reports found that heels really become painful once they’re higher than 7.5 cm (So Kates are 12 cm) and worn longer than 3.5 hours, with each 1.3 cm addition in heel height or 2 hour interval of weigh correlating to a 1-point increase in subjective back pain. So while Zendaya can wear them for hours and look effortless doing so, she still may breathe a sigh of relief when she can change into flats.

Is It Healthy to Wear Heels Every Day?

I hate to be the bearer of fashion bad news, but no. Putting your foot in an unnatural position for an extended period of time is not healthy, Dr. Weiser says. “Since a high-heeled shoe puts more pressure on the forefoot, it can contribute to pain such as corns and calluses, and increase pressure on hammertoes and bunions,” he explains.

Wearing high heels on the daily can also increase your risk of muscle imbalances, ankle sprains, foot pain, and swelling of the intermetatarsal nerves, Dr. Weiser says. Why? High heels naturally place more pressure on the ball of your foot, overloading the joints and leading potential to pain and inflammation.

On top of that, long-term high heel use can contribute to arthritic joints in the foot and ankle and may even place excessive stress on the back and legs, Dr. Weiser says.

Need more proof? One study in the journal BMC Public Health found that heels naturally worsen your balance, ultimately leading to biomechanical changes in the hip, knee, foot, and ankle. And another study in the journal Foot & Ankle International found that habitual high heel-wearers have decreased ankle range of motion and increased ankle eversion (its tendency to turn out).

Can You Make Heels More Comfortable?

You’re more likely to get comfortable wearing heels that have built-in or added support under the forefoot (also known as the metatarsal), Dr. Weiser explains. A stiletto will naturally thrust your bodyweight forward and the added cushion will ease some of the pressure off the ball of your foot. If the heels themselves are cushion-less, try Dr. Scholl’s Ball of Foot Cushion inserts ($7).

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If you can stick to heels that are 7.5 cm high and under, and wear them for no longer than 3.5 hours at a time, you should be able to minimize the pain you feel as well, according to the Scientific Reports study.

Additionally, the Foot & Ankle International study authors suggest that people who wear heels for more than five hours, six times a week stretch their ankles regularly to minimize problematic biomechanical changes.

The Bottom Line

Morale of the highly fashionable story? You likely cannot “train” your feet to be cozy in a painful pair of heels, despite Zendaya’s flawless gait in her timeless So Kate’s. Nevertheless, you can find a pair of comfortable heels to support your foot. . . and look good while doing it.

Andi Breitowich is a Chicago-based freelance writer and graduate from Emory University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in PS, Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan, and elsewhere.

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