How do you walk in really high heels?

A question for the ladies (gents?) re: walking in very high stiletto heels. Think Victoria Beckham tottering around on spikes thinner than a pencil.

You don’t really put any weight through your own heel, right? You aren’t actually using those teeny little sticks (the heels of the shoe) to support yourself when walking, are you? You’re really kind of walking around on tippy toes, yes? All your weight is down through your toes and balls of your feet, isn’t it?

My best dress shoes (leather sole, probably a synthetic heel) have a heel at best half an inch high. When I walk, generally speaking I dig in with my heel (both my own and the shoe) to “grab” the ground and pull me forward. The faster I want to go, the longer my stride and the more solid the “grab” has to be to carry the momentum. The longer the stride and the more aggressive the “grab”, the more unstable the “grab” tends to be. This is why I walk slower on slippery surfaces – if I attempt an aggressive “grab” it won’t take, I’ll slip and fall. On slippery surfaces, e.g. ice, I slow it down to little tiny baby steps, foot flat, with almost no aggressive “grab” to move forward. It is much slower going, but much more stable.

So… as for the “grab”. You ladies don’t actually “grab” with that tiny little heel, do you?

The heels do support weight, but with any sort of women’s dress shoes, even shorter heeled types, you get no grab at all. It’s like walking on ice all the time. Of course, some shoes are better than others, but in general, you need to be careful in high heels.

Also, wearing & walking on heels is a bit of a learned skill. The higher they are, the more you have to sort of practice how to walk in them. You’ve all seen women who are obviously having a hard time walking in their shoes - that comes from not being used to the heels.

And, for the record, that would be me. I had a brief period of being able to easily wear heels in my early 20s when I had a job that required them. Since then, I’m a sneakers and sandals type of girl. Any heels higher than about a half inch make me look like John Cleese in his silly walk sketch.

Depends on the quality of shoe. If you’re worried the heel will snap off, you’re definitely not putting the weight on there that you should be – shorter steps, careful around stairs and certain surfaces. But I’d kill myself standing on tippy-toe all right. When sky high stillettos were more my thing, I was so used to them I pretty much treated them like any other high heels, with my weight distributed throughout (though a bit less in the heel, I’m sure). I did take more taxis.

There’s actually plenty of weight resting on the heel of my stilettos, as evidenced by the fact that I usually need to take them to the cobbler for a new heel once or twice a year (smaller surface area on the heel = more pressure = greater wear and tear). A woman who is walking around on her tip-toes is either wearing a very bad pair of shoes, or she never learned how to walk in heels.

That said, if I’m wearing a pair of very skinny and/or high heels I do walk a little more carefully, especially on slick tiled surfaces or going up/down stairs, because my centre of gravity is shifted just enough to make it easier to go ass over teakettle. I also never ever wear them if there’s a risk of icy sidewalks, because that’s just asking for trouble.

From what I’ve seen (being a guy, and not a cross-dresser), experienced wearers do indeed put a lot of weight on the heels. The most secure heel-walkers have a stride that looks and sounds like they’re trying to drive their heels through concrete, especially when they’re pissed off or in a hurry. Good shoes will stand up to this – one acquaintance of mine climbed trees in hers.

There’s a difference between walking and standing. For walking, no, you don’t depend on the stiletto heel to carry your weight forward. NOTE that this does not mean you only walk on your tip toes. You still walk heel-to-toe but just know how much pressure to put on the heel for it to carry forward. Tip-toe walking is hideously inefficient and an easy way to detect if someone doesn’t wear heels normally. For standing around, you lean back on your heels so the balls of your feet don’t carry all the weight. Makes it far easier to stand around in heels for awhile than if you’re constantly having all your body weight on your toes.

I have 5" heels (no platforms) I can walk in just fine, though at that height it starts to be a bit harder to put your weight back on your heels when standing. I’m more comfortable with 3.25"-4". Anything under 3" feels like a low heel to me.

Victoria Beckham looks like she buys shoes that are at least a half size too big for her feet – that’s why it looks so bad when she wears them – her feet have slid forward. In a well-balanced heel, you put equal weight on the entire foot. The shoes I am wearing today (admittedly neither spikes nor “really high”) are very well balanced – almost to the point of more weight being distributed to my heels than my toes.
In the super-high spiked heels, you do (by default) put more weight on the pad than the heels, but it is the pad, not the actual toes – unless you don’t have a clue how to buy shoes or are buying shoes designed to put you literally on tippy-toe (S&M shoes are made for that purpose). I have always walked in heels (always being defined as ever since I had control over my footwear, circa age 11 or so) and have found that my center of gravity is such that I am more, rather than less, well-balanced in heels than flats. For me, if I can’t be barefoot, I prefer a 3.5" or higher heel. My coworkers always comment how my shoes “would kill” them. Meh, whatever. I have even mentioned that on my Wii Fit balance board prefers my posture when I am in my highest heels over when I am barefoot.

Practice. This is why high-school prom for many girls can be such a nervous experience. If you’ve never walked in heels before, there is a bit of a learning curve to it. Stilettos can take a bit of getting-used-to, though.

In areas like where I live, where it’s very cold and there’s a lot of snow for the winter months, seeing women walking in stiletto heels is almost nonexistent during the winter months. Most women I know who wear heels and need to walk or use transit to get to work wear snow boots and change into their heels when they get to work or wherever they’re going.

And yes, ideally you place weight evenly on the foot. I used to work in a shoe store, and wearing heels was part of the requirement. Most girls I knew got some type of soft insole for the ball of the foot if the shoes were particularly hard to stand in. But once you get used to it, heels aren’t the trial they seem to me. My favorite pair of everyday heels have a four-inch heel, no platform, and they’re wonderfully comfortable. I have them in two colors, I love them so much.

Just curious, what kind of job required them? Did the dress code actually spell this out?

Keep the tips coming! At 28 I finally succumbed to social pressure (at any given time, I’m actually the only woman in China not wearing heels) and bought some heels.

I’m still convinced they are a tool of the patriarchy and a modern day incarnation of food binding. But whatever, right? I want to learn how to walk in these damn things.

So far all I can say is there must be some degree of numbing/structural changes. I can wear mine for a few hours at a time. But any walking in them hurts. I’m not convinced it’s just that my heels are cheap/ill fitting. Because everyone around me can wear the same cheap, ill-fitting heels all day long without looking like they want to cry all of the time.

Just curious too. Model?
Thank you everyone. This is informative.

I actually walk better in heels than flat-footed - when I go sightseeing where there is a lot of walking, I might wear platforms instead of stilettos, but I find my feet are often less tired than my companions who were sandals or sneakers.

I agree that once you are in the habit of wearing heels, you don’t really think about it. And for me also, anything under 3" just feels low to me.

The one thing I do find difficult sometimes in my 5" heels is my stride. I’m 5’9"ish (add the heels and i’m over 6’2") and I’m used to being able to take long strides. But I do “grab” a little with my heels - just like I would any other shoe.

It’s worth noting that, while the x-rayed foot of a long-time high heel wearer does look oddly like that of a bound foot, heels are not necessarily ‘worse’ than flats. Ballerina flats or sandals with flimsy soles and no heel or arch support can do just as much damage to feet.

I read this and hear Stewie Griffin’s voice in my head.

I’m another one who loves heels. I love my sandals too, but I could never go to work in flats.
The only time I have pressure only on my tiptoes is when I’m going up stairs. I can stride right along in heels as fast as someone in sneakers.
It’s all about practice. The first time I wore 5", I felt like a pigeon, bobbing my head to keep balance.

They wouldn’t go through gratings if there weren’t pressure on them. (I have a bad tendency to not look where I’m going). For me, the bigger problem is the soles of most heeled shoes being too thin. (“Too thin” meaning that I can feel every stupid rock and pebble and otherwise uneven surface through the shoe and I don’t like that digging into my feet.)

It’s mostly about practice, I think, maybe a sense of how your body moves, too. I do know I can’t go downstairs in high, high heels. I can walk, skip, or run to the stairs and away from them, but going down isn’t going to be pretty.

In my ballerina days I ONLY wore heels, except to gym class. I especially wore stilettos on icy days because I could dig them in to the ice/snow and gain some traction. It’s all about ankle strength.

Now, I’ve gained some weight, (well, a lot actually) and the added pressure on the balls of my feet is uncomfortable. Since I purchased some jelly-soft pads that I can put in the toe of the shoes I do wear them more often.

High-high heeled shoes usually have a steel shank, so you really can rest your weight on them comfortably. There is more weight on the ball of the foot than with flats, but certainly not ALL of your weight.

I recently ordered some high heels from Crocs. I can’t wait to try them!