Ways to reduce heel volume in shoes?

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  • #3748247
    BPL Member


    Locale: Cascadia

    What are some good ways to reduce heel volume in a pair of shoes?

    My Altra Olympus 4 shoes have everything I want, except they have wide heels that don’t lock down very well.

    What are some options to reducing the heel volume preferably without adding any (or much) lift, so as to keep them zero drop?

    Could I look at either adding something to the shoes, or adding something to my feet? or both?

    Sam Farrington
    BPL Member


    Locale: Chocorua NH, USA

    I’ve used custom footbeds made by podiatrists for many years.  The best brand used carbon fiber to support the back of the foot, and was called ‘PAL.’  They are expensive, around $400 a pair, but the heel pockets are molded to my heels, and prevent slipping.  They also prevent pronation and other afflictions that can hurt.  And they have lasted for many years.  Superfeet are not custom, and not as durable, but much less expensive, and a good way to find out if a footbed can work.  A strip of tenacious tape across the bottom underneath where the orthotic ends, leaving only the foam pad, will prevent damage, and only costs a few cents to replace if it wears out.

    Of course it helps to start with a mid or shoe that is the best foot you can find.  I bring a zip bag of footbeds with me when going shoe shipping, and often spend hours trying on footwear.  Sometimes the checkout folks look suspiciously at the zip bag.  Even when I’m buying.  With the number of scam artists that abound these days, it is understandable.  Or maybe I just have a guilty look.  No surprise, given my background.  As the bar girls used to say, “Be nice.”

    Ben H.
    BPL Member


    Locale: No. Alabama

    People used to have this problem all the time with hockey skates (there is even a condition affectionately referred to as Bauer Bumps). They sell heel pads for hockey skates that might work good for you. Something like this:

    Other options available if you dig. I can’t recommend a particular style/brand because I have fat heels that fit nicely into classic Bauer skates.

    Ray J
    BPL Member


    A few quick and cheap things to try.  Head to Wally World for some MoleSKIN and also MoleFOAM.  I use a Sharpie marker and after removing my orthotics, push the SKIN into the heal cup.  I trim a small triangle off the bottom edge of both sides of the SKIN so it sits into the shoe better.  Then mark where it sticks up above the shoe.  Trim all that off.  Remove the backing and press into the heal.  You can also try this with the FOAM.  Probably harder to accomplish but would take up more of the space in the cup.  I used to do it as my heal would go up and down as I hiked and I’d wear out the cloth inside the shoe.  The SKIN gets worn out and can be replaced a few times, allowing the rest of the shoe to wear out instead of a ruined heal cup and the rest of the shoe was fine.

    Just something to try.  The other suggestions are all great but take time to get fitted and made.

    Steve Thompson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northeast

    If your feet aren’t too big you might try the women’s altras. (risk being they’ll be too narrow in the forefoot) and though you like the altras if they don’t really fit try a different brand of shoe built to a different last.

    Taping as suggested is another option though ymmv should you have sweaty feet like me the thicker products like moleskin and molefoam don’t adhere for long and something that does, like leukotape won’t use much volume.

    The heel pads look interesting and had I known about these would have tried them.  But ultimately for my size 15, normal width, low volume, narrow heel foot it was trying shoe after shoe until finding one that actually fit.

    It took me 30+ years so don’t despair, but with each new pair I always did the first few hikes without taping and finding my heel slipped taped till they wore out and I tried something different.  I am always worried brooks will modify the cascadias such that they no longer fit, but I am good on 10 years now.

    Good luck.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Cascadia

    Good idea on the women’s version. I might be able to wear the size 12 since I wear 10.5 in men’s.

    I am stuck with the Olympus shoe model as it is the only one I can find that is zero drop, max cushion, AND megagrip sole. I refuse to use anything less sticky than Vibram Megagrip, ever again.

    Thanks for the tips, folks.

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