high heels

Wearing high heels after a broken ankle

Can I wear heels after a broken ankle? This was one of the questions on my mind during my broken ankle rehab after a trimalleolar fracture.

Wanting to walk in high heels is not a matter of vanity. It’s the desire to be made whole again and is an important milestone on the path to full recovery.

The answer to that question is yes. But it requires training, just like learning to walk again required training. Because the ankle will wobble and the foot will hurt from bearing weight at different angles. And you’re going to be limping again, not a cute look in high heels.

The secret to walking in high heels post accident

A bit before the second anniversary of the accident that occurred in September 2015, I decided it was high time to get back into my heels. I had already gotten used to wearing stable shoes with higher heels such as my flat boots with 1 inch heels and my cowboy boots with 3 inch heels. But it’s a whole other thing trying to walk in skinny-heeled shoes that I wore prior to the accident.

The first time I put them on I felt like I was teetering on top of a very tall ladder. Actual height: 3½ inches. Of course my right foot was fine but the left one was hanging on for dear life. Once again it was like my left foot was a separate entity from the rest of my body.

Taking that first step was crazy for a few reasons:

It hurt
I had to hang on to the wall
I was limping

So what did I do? I got out my secret weapon…the crutch that helped me learn to walk without limping. Yes friends, I was walking around the house using a crutch wearing high heels. But you know what, it worked!

Soon the crutch was back in the closet and I was able to wear my tallest, skinniest pre-accident heels out in public. This triumphant moment happened on October 27, 2017!

High heel training program after a broken ankle

Below is an outline of the training program I created for myself to transition into high heels, followed by detailed explanations:

  • Out with the old shoes
  • In with the new shoes
  • Sit, stand, walk around the house
  • Don’t limp!
  • Walk around the yard
  • Take them for a test drive

Out with the old shoes

I decided to get rid of all my platform shoes. I love platform shoes and I had some really cute ones but I’ve always known they were unstable. They rock and it’s easy to fall off of them (hence, the broken ankle).

I even got rid of my wedge shoes because that solid bottom sole also feels a bit unstable compared to shoes with a separate heel and more flexible sole.

That left me with a few slides and sandals of varying heights and heel widths.

My high heels from lowest to tallest

My high heels from lowest to tallest

In with the new shoes

I got a few pairs of block-heeled and chunkier-heeled shoes. Fortunately, they’re in style once more but I’ve always thought they were cute.

I recommend getting shoes with varying heel heights (1½, 2, 2½, 3, 3½ inches). My maximum is 3½ inches. Training involves working your way up from the lowest to the highest, and from chunky to skinny heels.

Stability and proper fit are important. Pumps, boots and shoes with straps are the most stable.

Make sure the soles aren’t slippery. If they are, scuff them up with a little sandpaper because the last thing we want is to fall again.

high heels

Sit, stand, walk around the house

Begin high heel training with the shortest, chunkiest heels and progress to the skinniest, tallest ones.

Slip on a pair and spend some time just sitting with them on, about ten minutes or so. Then stand up in them. That’s not going to feel too great but you need to get used to them gradually. Take a few steps if you can. Stop and try it again the next day but increase the walking time.

My house has carpet and tile, and I worked up to taking a few laps around the house, getting used to walking on different surfaces. I would try to go ten laps.

Don’t limp!

Before beginning high heel training, you should already be walking limp-free. If not, you can refer to these articles for tips on walking without a limp: Broken ankle recovery and Magic shoes.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of walking correctly. As I said earlier, I needed to rely on a crutch while I was learning to walk properly in high heels. The crutch goes on your good side to support your bad foot during a step.

The goal is to have a measured gait, taking the same amount of time with each step.

When I mastered walking around the house properly without a crutch, I moved on to the next challenge, walking in the backyard.

Walk around the yard

Now it’s time to strut your stuff outside. My backyard is mostly concrete and I would do about ten laps around the yard in my heels. I did this for a few days before I felt ready to move on to the next undertaking, going out in public.

Wearing my high heels

Wearing my high heels in the real world after a broken ankle

Take them for a test drive

After you’ve got walking in the backyard down pat, it’s time to wear your high heels out in real life. Go on a short errand or over to a friend’s house, some place where there’s minimum walking. Bring a pair of flats or your magic shoes in case your feet poop out on you.

Gradually you can go for longer trips, maybe even try a little dancing. Keep backup shoes on hand until you no longer need them.

i can wear my high heels again

Congratulations! You have now graduated to wearing high heels with confidence!

16 replies
  1. Tonette
    Tonette says:

    Omg!! I’m so glad you wrote this. I was feeling sad about comments I had read where women were saying they could not wear heels again. I love my heels. I know I have to trust the process and be patient. But your article definitely gives me hope!!! Thank you for sharing!!!

  2. V
    V says:

    Hi Lynda, I had a severe open left Trimalleolar fracture in September 2017, just shy of 2 years ago. Currently I am able to wear up to 3 1/2″ heels, but it is a bit uncomfortable. Mind over matter all in the name of vanity. However, the majority of my heels are 4″ to 4 1/4″ and I’m not able to wear those yet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wear them. I’m curious…Is your maximum of 3 1/2″ heels because you can’t walk in heels higher than that or because you don’t have heels higher than that? Thanks!

    • [email protected]
      [email protected] says:

      Hi V, I have never chosen to wear heels higher than 3 1/2″. I’ve always thought they would be extremely uncomfortable. But if that’s what you were used to, you can give my tips a try. Practice wearing them around the house every day for a few minutes. Good luck!

  3. Ki
    Ki says:

    Thank you!! I broke my ankle in 2017. I use to wear heels all the time. I wear heels in my friend wedding 2018 I had to take them off right after. A year late I can’t even stand in heels. I see practice is key. I love my heels I hope to walk in them again

  4. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    Thank you for this article!! I severely sprained my ankle 6 months ago and just barely healed from the bone contusion. I am currently in physical therapy. It feels silly to express my concerns about potentially never being able to wear heels again to others but high heels have always been a part of my identity and its been hard to deal with amongst the other inconveniences and difficulties of the injury. My physical therapist knows its a part of my goal but it just seems so far off right now and I get so frustrated. I am happy to see I am not alone in this and that other people like yourself have overcome their injury in this capacity!

    • [email protected]
      [email protected] says:

      Hi Melissa, there’s nothing silly about wanting to get back to normal. If I can do it, you should be able to as well. Good luck!

  5. Olivia
    Olivia says:

    Thank you for much for this! I broke my fibula, tibia and ankle wearing platform high heels and I am scared to transition back. Your tip about using the crutches was mind blowing and I feel so much better knowing someone else has overcome this. These tips are all so helpful and I will be using all of them!

    Thank you <3

  6. Fiona
    Fiona says:

    Thank you for this article Lynda. I broke my ankle in 3 places two years ago this month. My consultant told me it would be 2 years before it would be fully recovered. With that in mind I searched for information about wearing heels and if it would be possible. Using a crutch is a great idea, I will try this out tomorrow. .I have always worn heels and never feel dressed up without them. So thank you for your help .

  7. Jas
    Jas says:

    Thank you so much for this! It’s been almost 7 months since my surgery for my trimalleolar fracture (left ankle) and this has been a question I’ve always thought to myself and was very worried about. This gives me hope, haha.


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