This post was most recently updated on July 5th, 2019
Walking in heels often conjures up images of supermodels in towering stilettos stomping down Paris runways with ease. However, how to walk in high heels in real life is much different.
It can be hard to imagine yourself as another Hadid sister when walking in heels feels more like walking in stilts.
That’s because heels place your feet (and body) in different places. In heels, 90% of your body weight becomes focused on the balls of your feet instead of being dispersed throughout.
This shift is what makes walking in heels so difficult. Imagine having to move around if virtually all of your body weight suddenly shifted to various body parts! (Hint: it would not be a fun experience).
However, if you want to skip the whole how to walk in high heel lesson check out some super comfy heels that won’t even necessitate a lesson on how to walk in them, below:
Shop Comfortable High Heel Shoes:
Luckily, if you have some heels that don’t seem to cut it for you (or just simply cut your feet!) we’ve got tips and tricks on how to walk in heels properly.
So whether you just got your first pair of heels or you’re a dedicated shoe collector, it’s never a bad idea to learn (or re-learn) how to walk in heels.
How To Walk in Heels
While it may seem silly, investing the time to learn how to walk in heels properly will pay off the next time you’re faced with an event where wearing heels is mandatory.
Your future self will thank you when she doesn’t make a fool out of herself at an important job interview or big date! Here are our tips for walking in heels:
Take The Right Step
Walking in heels is similar to making a big decision. You have to take the right step in order to be successful! And the right step in heels is heel-toe with a bit of a twist. Instead of your normal stride length, shorten it. By walking smaller steps, you have more control.
It also means taking things slowly. You’re wearing heels, not running shoes! Unless something is chasing you or you’re dangerously late to an event, take your time getting places. By taking your time, you have more control over your stride.
Bigger Doesn’t Mean Better
When you first start experimenting with heels, it can be tempting to start off with a sky-high stiletto heel. But unless you’re a seasoned pro or you have a natural God-given heel walking talent, stay away from them!
Of course, you can still buy them. But keep your feet away from them until you’ve tried your feet in smaller heights.
There’s a learning curve with every inch in heel height. Your body needs time to adjust and remember the proper motions and placements. Walking in three-inch heels after a lifetime of flats is hard enough. Going from flat to five inches is a hospital visit waiting to happen.
Engage Your Core
Who knew walking in heels was an ab exercise? Well, you won’t actually gain abs from walking in heels, but if you’re feeling unstable in heels, you’re probably not activating your core.
Gently draw in your abdominal wall towards your spine until you feel it start to contract. Note: sucking in your stomach is not the same thing. You should feel your stomach becoming tighter, not just smaller!
Your core is how you maintain balance & stability. A good core means a stable stride. It also helps maintain the proper heel walking posture: shoulders back, head high, and chin parallel to the floor. And who knows? Maybe after walking in heels all day, you might be able to skip the gym 😉
Walking in heels is not rocket science. Don’t overthink things! Concentrating too hard can make your walk look robotic. Or worse, like a newborn calf. Instead, think about walking to a beat. The imaginary rhythm will help with your natural rhythm in multiple ways.
- First way? It relaxes you. When you’re thinking too hard or feeling a little self-conscious, you tend to stiffen up. And stiff is not your friend when you’re trying to learn how to walk in heels. You want to look as natural as possible.
- Second way: it loosens up your hips. If you’ve ever seen any woman walk in heels ever, you’ve probably noticed that they walk with a sway. Whether intentional or not, that sway helps women walk in heels easier.
It helps with the overall momentum. And most importantly? A woman who sways in heels is a woman who is confident that she can walk in heels.
Despite women’s shoe sizing being miles more clearer than women’s clothing sizes, your shoe size can change. And not just the daily half-size swell from morning to evening either. Your feet can get flatter over time leading to a wider width, or if your weight changes, your feet can get grow or shrink as well.
A properly fitted shoe is the key to walking in heels properly. If your shoe is too big, you’ll find yourself slipping out of your shoes. If your shoe is too small, you’ll be in pain with every step. If you have either of these problems, check out our hacks on how to stretch out shoes & how to make shoes smaller!
A fitted shoe will hold your foot into place without squeezing the life out of them. A good fit is the best tip to finding stability in your heels. So if you find your ride-and-die heels becoming a little tighter or looser, it might be a sign that your size has changed.
Learning how to buy heels properly (as well as knowing your size) is equally important as how to walk in them!
How To Walk In VERY High Heels (And Stilettos!)
Now that you know how to walk in heels, you’re ready to move onto the big leagues: pencil thin stilettos. Or maybe just any heel that’s over 5 inches! Whatever the shoe, this section is for more advanced heel wearers who need extra tips on how to walk in high (HIGH) heels.
Take The Right Step Part 2
You know all about the heel-toe & short stride now. But when dealing with sky-high heels, there’s more to stepping then just the basics. As you walk, spread your toes slightly when you place your foot onto the ground.
This helps distribute the weight as evenly as possible. Super important if you find yourself developing calluses in one or two specific areas on the balls of your feet.
Taking the right step also includes not necessarily keeping your feet in a straight line. It may help to turn your legs and feet slightly outwards so they’re not directly pointing straight. Doing so helps open the hips, giving you strength, and in turn, helps steady the ankles.
Strong Core, Weak Knees
Much like the previous point, having a strong core is an absolute necessity for in walking in heels. While you can let your abs relax in smaller heels & get away with it, it becomes infinitely more difficult the higher you go. You need to be able to maintain a good core or else you risk taking a tumble.
However, this also means, that if your core is strong, everything else can be free.: your arms & most importantly, your knees. It’s easy to become tense in the knees when walking in heels. But if your core is activated, you can relax & any stiffness will be reduced.
Gliding Over Strutting
Unless you’re actually hoping to get a callback to the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, save your strut. Strutting is actually very unnatural and places a lot of extra stress on your feet. Instead, try gliding.
The basic heel-toe rule still applies, but don’t put so much pressure on the heel that there’s a deafening clack when your toes hit the ground. Try going down evenly on the heel and the ball of the foot.
The key to good gliding is not making so much noise. And if you live with downstairs neighbors, they’ll thank you. Can’t help click those heels on the way down? Check out this nifty high heel protector that also makes heels less noisy!
Best Heel Height For Walking
If you can’t quite take the plunge into walking in heels over five inches, but still want to walk in heels, there are options out there for you! There’s a multitude of different shoe types and styles waiting to be discovered.
You can still get the added height of heels while getting the most comfortable heel height. Because comfort is key!
I opt for no more than a 3.5 heel height, or at most a 3.75 inch heel height if I’m feeling la-di-da. And in a thinner heel, a 3.5 inch heel can actually look a lot taller than people would think! Or go for a 4 inch heel with a slight platform to distribute the heel height weight.
Below are a few great heel heighted options:
Lower Heel Heights
The best heel height for walking is usually within the 2-3 inches range. It’s enough to give you the height you want without much of the hurt. Because the less height your heel has, the easier it is to walk in.
The kitten heel — aka the “sensible” heel — is one of the most comfortable heel heights. It ranges from 1.5-2 inches high and & gives off a very distinct vintage look.
Because the height difference is relatively minimal, kitten heels are a great beginner heel. But that doesn’t mean they have to be boring! There are many cute kitten heels to shop these days. Just see below!
Shop Kitten Heels:
Maybe you’re not ready to give up on the stiletto dream just yet. And that’s totally okay! There are ways to wear stilettos comfortably, and that’s with straps!
Straps, just like the name suggests, keeps your feet strapped in. While it doesn’t provide any extra balance, it does help you feel more stable. When your foot is strapped into a shoe, and it’s not slipping and sliding, you feel can conquer the world.
Not every heel needs to be a stiletto. There’s a wide variety of heels out there: chunky, platform, stacked, and wedge. Each of these heel types will be more comfortable than stiletto heels because they help distribute weight easier than a stiletto.
And usually, the heel height doesn’t tend to matter as much making most non-stiletto heels a safe heel height.
And if you’re not sold on heels in general, the wedge is a great option! It doesn’t have a separated sole like other heels. This non-separation gives more stability and helps with balance as you walk.
A great alternative for those wanting height without sacrificing comfort. If you want to learn how to make heels more comfortable, check out our post here!
Hopefully, these tricks and tips have helped you on how to learn to walk in heels. Walking in heels can be tricky, and can take a lot of time and practice, but these tips should help the learning process go a bit smoother.
And who knows? Maybe once you’ve mastered how to walk in high heels, the Paris runway will come..err…running.
What did you think of our list? Did you learn how to walk in heels, or did you already know? Do you have difficulty walking in heels and need a bit more help? Let us know in the comments, below!
Written by Meagan E.