Fans of the hack claim that simply taping your third and fourth toes together with medical tape (start counting from the big toe) can yield nearly eight hours of agony-free style, even in soaring stilettos.
It’s one of the easiest solutions to enhance comfort, it’s cost-effective and, yes, it does have some “merit,” podiatrist Joan Oloff told Footwear News.
“Women have been trying at home fixes to alleviate foot pain when wearing heels for as long as heels have been around,” Oloff explained, “Women have tried everything from taping their toes, padding the insole of their shoes, padding their toes, adding moleskin to the heel to reduce friction, applying body glide to prevent friction, adding inserts.”
When it comes to at-home remedies and quick fixes, Oloff has heard it all. In fact, it’s what inspired her to create her own line of ergonomically correct luxury footwear, available at joanoloffshoes.com.
Fact: There is no substitute for shoes that are specifically designed for comfort and support. However, it is possible to minimize pain by hacking the science behind your body to work to your advantage.
So why does the high-heel hack work? First, it’s important to understand where the pain comes from — pressure, bones in the toes and irritation around the nerves, Oloff explained.
“Every woman who wears heels (other than mine) knows that there is a great deal of pressure under the ball of the foot, and there are several reasons for the pain and pressure that she feels,” Oloff said. “The metatarsals, or five long bones of the foot, end at the ball, and heels can cause pain to the bone endings more than flat shoes would. Additional pressure can also be put on the toes, which tend to contract more when wearing heels.”
She continued, “But a lot of the pain one feels comes from small intermetatarsal nerves that run in between the bones of the foot themselves, and when wearing heels, the nerves become irritated and enlarged.”
“This causes a bursa to surround the nerve and fill up with inflammatory tissue, causing pain. The most common nerve that gets irritated is the one that sits between the third and fourth toes, mainly because the toes spread apart when the tissues enlarge,” Oloff said. “Because of this, taping one’s toes can remove some pressure from the nerve and inflamed tissues.”