Find Your Footing With These High Heel Training Tips & Tricks

Maybe she's born with it, maybe she worked really hard during high heel training. Learn how to safely strut your stuff with these exercises and routines.

Updated February 8, 2024
Woman putting her high heels on

High heels have sex appeal on their own, but capturing that perfect runway-ready walk takes a bit of skill. Enter high heel training and all you need to know to get your gams and tootsies ready to strap into the monster heels of your choice. Whether you're readying for nights out with stilettos or need some tips on perfecting the art of prancing around in kitten heels, these high-heel exercises will give you the skills to walk tall with confidence.

Start With High Heel Exercises That Target Important Muscles 

Wearing heels takes leg strength, balance, and mobility (explain that to the guy who hogs all the gym equipment next time). Think of it like the High Heel Olympics and to go for the gold, you've got to train your body. The stronger and more nimble your body is, the less likely you are to end up with an embarrassing injury. 

Work Your Ankles, Calves, & Arches

To successfully sashay in heels, it's all about strengthening your ankles and calves and increasing arch flexibility. Even the American Osteopathic Association suggests that those of us who wear high heels should regularly stretch everything below the knee.

To prepare, think about the three Bs — barre, ballet, and burlesque. All three require conditioning exercises that offer exactly what you need so you can run to catch the subway in heels without twisting your ankle.  

It's all about strength training with a good dose of stretching. While the Barre Workout for Calves and Ankles from Lazy Dancer Tips on YouTube will have you primed for four-inch pumps, other training videos that cover any of the three Bs will work great. 

High Heel Workouts to Try 

There's an art to choosing the right workouts for the results you want. This workout routine should give you a great foundation to start off with.

  • Ankle circles, clockwise and counter-clockwise, five times each way, per foot.
  • Heel raises (15-20 repetitions, for one to three sets with toes turned in, feet parallel, and toes turned out).
  • Toe raises (15-20 repetitions, for one to three sets).
  • Sitting on the floor with one ankle crossed over the other knee (in "4" position), tug the toes and front part of the foot toward you for a few seconds. Repeat four times.
  • In the same "4" position, hold your heel with one hand and push the top of the foot away from your body to stretch the arch, then release after a few seconds. Repeat four times.

Try Real-Time Heel Training

Once your ankles, calves, and arches are warmed up and worked out, it's time to jump in the deep end. Practice makes perfect and these tips will help you wear your heels with poise and grace.

Adjust Your Posture

Check your center of balance once you've got your high heels on. If you feel like you're pitched forward, think about adjusting your body to be in a straight line. A full-length mirror is your friend and watching yourself stand will help you see your posture from the front and sides.

You want to stand with your shoulders back and neck tall like a marionette. When you've got that posture down, you're ready to click-clack across the wood floors. 

Imagine a Balance Beam

Graceful steps begin with mindfulness. Try picturing a balance beam as you walk. You don't have to put one foot directly in front of the other unless you're practicing for Fashion Week, but you do want to prevent your feet from swinging too far out.  

Need to Know

When standing in heels, it's important to keep your knees and hips relaxed. Hold too much tension in your lower muscles and you may find yourself tiring out way too quickly. 

Start With Low and/or Chunky Heels  

Take baby steps with kitten heels. Yes, stilettos are sexy, but you need to try out some training wheels first. Platforms, wedges, and chunky heels to the rescue! These shoes will give you the height of a stiletto but won't put as much pressure on the front of your feet. 

Wear Them Around the House 

Whether you're a barefoot or slippers in the house kind of person, you need to turn into a heels-at-home person if you want to get comfortable in them fast. It's good practice so your feet and your shoes become one...or at least so it doesn't feel like you're stomping around in ice picks. Practicing at home gets you ready for the big leagues outdoors. 

Woman walking up the staircase with pumps shoes

Related: 5 Vintage Shoe Styles That Have Withstood the Test of Time

Perfect Your Sashay 

Stomping might not look great, but it's even worse for your joints. The trick to an enviable walk in heels is to think of it as rolling your foot from heel to toe while being conscious of your gait. When practicing, focus on walking slowly, putting your heel down first, followed by the ball of your foot and your toe to get the perfect sashay.

Take Them Out for Short Trips

Give the world a sneak peek of you in heels with short trips until you gain your footing. The next time you're making a run to the convenience store for ice cream, put on your heels so you can get a feel for how they perform in the wild. This will help you suss out the balance, posture, and confidence you need. Don't even worry about changing out of your sweats — a good pair of heels goes with any outfit.

Woman changing high heels to sneakers

Scuff Them Up

To gain more traction, put your heels on and head outside to the pavement. Do a little shuffle back and forth to scuff up the soles just a bit. This is especially needed for pumps and stilettos — anything without a rubber or chunky sole — so your shoes have less slick and more traction. 

Helpful Hack

Veteran high-heel wearers know the power of an insert. Gel or cushioned inserts (sold at most grocers and drugstores) work wonders to cushion the ball of your feet. Less pain equals more time in your heels.  

How to Get Yourself Catwalk Ready

Just like jeans, your haircut, and your 401(k), walking in heels will get better in time. Some of us might be born ready to rock a 5", but others may need a bit of practice. Yet, all of us will benefit from stretching out the gams so we can wear heels into your twilight years. 

Start Training Every Day 

Step one: Put your heels on and stand in one place for a minute or two. Then take a few steps. Next, walk around your house. If you've found yourself distracted and suddenly hanging that picture you meant to put up last week, then you know you're runway-ready. 

Tired? Keep this up for three days, with about 15 minutes of walking around the house. Then try longer. After a few days to a week, take those shoes for a real walk outside. 

Monitor Your Progression

How long it'll take you to feel comfortable in a heel will depend on its style, weight, and height of the platform. Don't skimp out on training because you want to be ready. That's a surefire way to end up with a foot or ankle injury. 

A Little High Heel Training Goes a Long Way 

Heels add height, make legs look amazing, and give you an alluring strut. With an easy exercise routine and a bit of practice, wearing heels will feel like second nature. While we might not go so far as to say the Real Housewives episode "The Higher the Heel, the Closer to God" hit the nail on the head, there is something spiritually satisfying about conquering a pair of heels.  

Find Your Footing With These High Heel Training Tips & Tricks