Narrow Heels

Prevention and Treatment of Narrow Heels

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

  • Look for shoes that have a combination last. This differs from a standard last in that the rear of the shoe is narrower than usual, given the width in the forefoot. An example is a shoe that is a “C” width in the forefoot and an “A” width in the rear foot (most combination lasts have a heel width that is two sizes narrower than the forefoot).
  • Select shoes that have laces or adjustable straps that can make the shoe fit better and prevent slipping.  Use the extra eyelets (holes for the laces) if your shoes have them, or ask to have extra eyelets added, so you can cinch the shoes closer to the ankle. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society offers tips for lacing.
  • 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.
  • Use inserts or orthotics that can help reduce the volume of the heel area of footwear. You may benefit from a visit with a certified pedorthist or other foot health professional  who can create a customized orthotic or select an off-the-shelf orthotic that can help accommodate a narrow heel. The pedorthist might also add heel grips 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. For optimal foot protection, in addition to better fitting,  IPFH suggests wearing properly selected and fitted, as part of an integrated approach, padded socks with shoes with non-slip outsoles and any inserts or orthotics prescribed or recommended by a doctor or foot health professional.
  • If, after trying these strategies, you still have significant problems, consider custom-made shoes, as prescribed or recommended by a foot health professional.

More About Narrow Heels

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