One of the first excuses girls always give me for why they don’t feel comfortable competing in pageants is “I don’t even wear high heels!” Trust me, there was a long stretch of time where I looked like a newborn pony in heels too, but like every other area of competition, it just takes a little practice. But even before you get ready to start practicing, here are a few tips for the rookie heel walkers out there that I learned the hard way!
1) Buy shoes that fit! Not just because they are cute, or the right color… they have to fit. You won’t look cute walking in them if they just don’t fit. Sometimes if shoes are too big you can buy inserts and cushions, but it’s best not to rely on that. Sometimes it takes a little investment to buy shoes that will fit best, but you will be so happy you invested in your own comfort later!
2) Buy shoes that are made well! For me, this means a shoe with at least a 1 inch platform. I stomp hard and walk on my toes, so I need some material in that area to absorb the impact. Another thing I like to look for is the review on sites like zappos.com, 6pm.com, and shoebuy.com. Free shipping and free returns too for a safe test drive!
3) Break them in! But don’t put yourself through the pain, have the pros do it! Take every new pair of heels you get in to be stretched at a shoe repair location near you. It’s usually only $4-8 and you won’t need to struggle with them yourself. Everyone loves a great seamstress and it’s not uncommon for shoes to need a little alterations here and there too! The shoe repair service can even punch extra holes in the band for sizing and scuff the bottoms up a little bit to make them more worn in.
4) Customize and prevent! Walk around in your new heels and try to feel out the trouble spots. If there seems to be a spot where they might start to rub, put a cushion there to prevent a blister. Or even just wear a bandaid in that spot. If your sole isn’t conforming just right, get a stick-on insole or a padded cushion. Dr. Scholls has a great Dreamwalk collection and these really great rub-relief strips you can pick up quick on your next trip to Target.
5) Strengthen your calves and your ankles! Calf raisers, jumping rope, and even just walking will give you the calf endurance you need to practice your walk. http://www.wikihow.com/Strengthen-Your-Ankles has some easy techniques for this too. Ankle strength will improve your balance and awareness in those 4 inchers!
6) Run in them! No for real… learn to run in your heels. If you can run in them, you can walk in them. That’s how you will know they fit right too and your walking confidence will explode! And when you’re sprinting backstage to get ready, nothing will slow you down!
Meg Pulkrabek RD, LRD
Miss North Dakota International 2014