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If flat feet have dashed your dreams of wearing 4-inch heels, take heart. Just because you have trouble standing on your tippy-toes or wince when your heel makes contact with your pumps doesn't mean you need to donate your Jimmy Choo shoes just yet. Learning to walk in high heels as a flat-footed fashionista requires a dose of confidence and a serving of patience, not to mention a higher-than-average pain threshold. There's hope for you yet, and it comes in the form of orthotic inserts and balancing exercises.
Condition your tootsies for tip-toe walking in heels. Health and fitness guru Mark Sisson recommends strengthening flat feet by walking only on your tip-toes for five minutes per day. During this little segment, you can't allow your heels to touch the ground -- not even once, or you'll just have to start all over again! Not only will this strengthen the muscles, it will get your feet off the floor and accustomed to walking with less natural balance.
Put an extra bounce in your step with a high-heel orthotic insert. But unlike the Neanderthal-sized orthotic gel inserts you see on TV, the ones for high heels keep a much lower profile, allowing you to slip them right into your stilettos or your pumps. Your feet will feel supported, and no one will be the wiser as to how you're managing your gait so well.
Opt for pre-fabricated or custom high heel orthotics. The Foot and Ankle Center of Washington recommends a host of flat foot helps, from cushioned pads to heels with built-in insoles. Even your local chiropractor can take a look at how your feet sit in high heels and recommend a custom-fitted insert for maxing out comfort levels and ease of walking.
Start out your heel training with shoes designed for better balance. Shoes with a wedge heel offer a lot more real estate to play with in the heel department than a strappy stiletto. Once your feet get used to the wedge, graduate to heels more prone to tippage.
Practice walking on a variety of surfaces including cushy carpet, slick linoleum, steep stairs and rough concrete. Do as much of this as you can in the comfort of your own home and driveway so fewer people observe you doing a faceplant. Just because your flat feet do fine on a straight shoe shop floor doesn't mean you'll fare so well going down the stairs, up an escalator or across a parking lot littered with gum and blacktop cracks.