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If pinched toes, blisters, corns and heels rubbed raw sound familiar, you're not alone. For some reason, it seems the prettier the shoes, the more uncomfortable they are. It's like shoe designers focus on the aesthetic details that make us "ooh" and "ahh" and forget all about the wear-ability factor, especially for women with sensitive feet. Don't be fooled by those who say beauty has to hurt. Shoes that both look good and feel good are no fairy tale. Work that winning combination with shoes tailored to your sensitive feet's specific needs.
Flats are supposed to be the sensible alternative to heels, but sometimes those slip-on skimmers are worse than strap-on, sky-high stilettos. For flats, padding is key. Check for extra padding at the insoles, which is especially important if you have high arches. Because flats are notorious for chaffing the toes and heels, check for cushioning at both ends. Ensure you've got sturdy kicks and not collapsible slippers: Try to twist the shoes. Although a little bend is good, the shoes shouldn’t be so flexible you can wring them out like wet washcloths.
Whether you're hitting the dance floor in peep toes or just walking around the office in leather pumps, you won't be on your feet long if every step hurts. For those corporate-ladder climbing pumps, look for soles that are flexible at the front of the arches and stiff at the back of the arches. If you drool over heels with toes so pointy they could double as weapons, look for false points, where the points extend past the wider places where your toes actually fit. When it comes to height, heels that are thicker and balanced with platform fronts help distribute your weight so you're not teetering forward on throbbing toes.
You'd think sneakers would be the answer to sensitive feet, but even your favorite athletics kicks can leave you sore. Good sneakers have gel pads and roll balls. Gel pads reduce the impact when your feet hit the ground and roll balls keeps your feet from rolling inward as you walk. Collars are not just for popping on your shirt. Look for ankle collars -- extra cushioning around the ankles for added support. Whenever you shop for sneakers, read the label and make sure you get the right kind for the activity -- running or walking. The difference matters.
The simplicity of flip-flops makes them ideal for slipping on to go to the beach, but these are your feet's enemy when it comes to comfort. Backless shoes can leave the balls of your feet aching, and you're kidding yourself if you think those $2 flip-flops provide any support for your sensitive feet. Ditch those bargain-bin kicks and slip into sturdy sandals with thicker bases and straps made from quality materials -- leather or suede, not foam or plastic. Look for rubber soles that provide support on slippery floors and cushioned insoles to support your arches.