Narrow Heels… is a foot not a shoe problem!

Between the English language and your eyes playing tricks on you, I’m talking about heels as part of your feet, and NOT heels that are attached to your shoes. Narrow heels are a physical characteristic of some people’s feet, which can create real problems when trying to find footwear that fits properly. Unless you’re faced with the problem, you’re probably thinking…huh? What next?


A narrow heel can be the result of having a narrow foot, that is, the entire foot is very narrow. Or, a heel that is narrower than “normal” in relation to the forefoot; the heel is narrower than would be expected based on the width of the person’s forefoot.  Feet that are narrow simply require a shoe size that specifies narrow width. But if the heel of your foot is narrower than what the manufacturer considers “normal” in relation to the forefoot, it will likely be more difficult to find shoes that fit properly without some kind of customisation.

Isn’t it ironic, my feet are big and broad and I also have problems getting shoes. Narrow heels are usually observed in women. Men’s feet naturally tend to be broader. A landmark study on gender differences in foot shape, found that men have longer and broader feet for their stature, compared with women. It was also found that men and women differ significantly in 10 other variables related to calf, ankle and foot shape. One of these variables is that women’s feet taper more dramatically from forefoot to rear foot, than do men’s. This means that shoes that are not designed specifically for women’s feet can cause particular problems in fitting.

Men also can have feet with heels that are narrow relative to their forefoot size. Although this is less common, it still poses problems for shoe selection and fitting for some men.

Could it be the Shoes?

Stilettos that can cause ball of the feet damage

Yes, shoe designs can be a factor; some of the hottest shoes on the market are not always the most comfortable shoes to wear. Ladies, you know the ones! There are certain parts of every shoe that can commonly cause problems. Shoe designs can also be hazardous to your foot’s wellbeing. If the slope of the shoe is too acute, it could place pressure on the ball of the foot, or it could affect the arch resulting in muscle spasms and cramping.

Prevention and Treatment

Heel hugs help fill excess space

-Since narrow heels are a foot type or shape that is mainly genetics based, there is no way to prevent narrow heels; however, you can prevent or manage the most common problem associated with them, the tendency to slip up and down in the shoe. To help deal with this problem:

-Select shoes that have laces or adjustable straps that can make the shoe fit better and prevent slipping.  Use the extra holes for the laces if your shoes have them so you can pull the shoes closer to the ankle.

-Add a pad to the tongue of the shoe to force the foot toward the rear of the shoe, helping to hold it better in the heel. In addition, you can put a pad in the heel of the shoe so that your heel takes up more space.

Orthotics can help with the problem-Use inserts or orthotics that can help reduce the volume of the heel area of footwear. Get custom built orthotics or select an off-the-shelf orthotic that can help accommodate a narrow heel. You can also add a heel hug/grip to the collar of your shoes to provide a closer fit in the heel areas.


-Wear padded socks with padding in the heel that can serve as a space filler.

If, after trying these strategies, you still have significant problems, consider custom-made shoes, as prescribed or recommended by a foot health professional.

Medical Considerations

Because narrow heels make it difficult for the feet to fit properly in most shoes, you can end up with chafing and blisters.  They may contribute, as well, to injuries when you are participating in sports and other vigorous activities.

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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