GUEST POST: DIY Heel Height Hack

If you’re interested in reading more on ideas presented in the article below, I suggest reading Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief. If you’d like movement instruction via video, start with Fix Your Feet.

All of the shoes we’ve purchased in the last couple of years have been minimal, but as we transitioned, we found that some of our current, non-minimal shoes could be transitioned with a little help from the tool shed. As we close out #wholebodybarefoot month, my husband shares his favorite DIY shoe hack below.

The shoes I wear most often are none. After that, Vibram’s FiveFingers, because they are really similar to wearing none, only I can walk on gravelly roads and driveways (like ours).

When shoes are required, I wear my old Earth Shoes, which I gather are now called Kalso Earth Shoes – the ones with the heels slightly lower than the toes. (Don’t bother looking for them. They no longer make shoes for men.) Shoes without a heel saves the inevitable back and knee aches that happen while doing any significant amount of walking or working in regular men’s shoes.

The problem is (was), Earth doesn’t make a pair of adequate work boots. I have a good pair made by North Face (they’re hikers, actually), but like all work boots I have ever seen, the heel is (was) way higher than the toes. With the help of my handy jigsaw, I was able to make my work boots, into some very comfortable and stylish “earth shoes” – no capital letters…

On the right a back ache. On the left, a day of gardening and feeling good afterwards. In the middle, one thick piece of rubber which will no longer pinch my vertical axis into a forward angle.
On the right a back ache. On the left, a day of gardening and feeling good afterwards. In the middle, one thick piece of rubber which will no longer pinch my vertical axis into a forward angle.


I also hacked my soccer cleats after I kept getting stuck in the turf.

Most chronically-shod people carry their weight over their toes, and the spikes of a cleat are designed to accommodate this “normal” arrangement. Since I’ve transitioned to minimal shoes and a more vertical stance–which is better for my back, butt, and hamstrings when I’m off the field–I was finding myself pushing my heel-spikes into the ground, increasing the traction. Not great for playing well or safely.


The jigsaw hacks again. Just trimmed the tips off of each of the back spikes.

As usual, the solution to life’s problems is using power tools.

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19 thoughts on “GUEST POST: DIY Heel Height Hack

  1. I should have tried this with my work boots instead of taking them to the cobbler. He didn’t change the height at all (miscommunication) and just made it more like a wedge. So now, the hack saw technique will be trickier! Live and learn…

  2. I love this! Thanks for sharing this great tip. I have been doing this to my shoes with my jewelers saw. It’s like a tiny hack saw, and does the job beautifully. Occasionally I find the perfect pair of shoes or boots – flexible, WIDE, thin sole, fabulous price, but with a heel. A few minutes at my jewelers bench and they are now just right.

  3. So I’ve always wondered – if you saw off the heel on a regular boot like that, is there a hole in the sole? What’s under the heel?

  4. Back in the fall, I spent time researching several shoe repair places near me to see who might cut down heels. I love that you did it yourself! Thanks for posting, Michael!

  5. Aha! My husband (who is amazingly receptive to all these “quirky/quacky” things I bring in our collective life ) and I were just talking about, well, what about work shoes? After all, they make steel toes for a reason…

    I like the creative (and straightforward) solution!

  6. this is awesome! I was going through all our shoes (six children, my husband and myself) and I have a couple boxes full of shoes that don’t fit the bill for a minimalist shoe… I was so upset to find that my “I don’t’ wear heels” shoes all had small heel or were a flip flop! so I am going to try this with some of our shoes before throwing them away:) I did buy water shoes and I found a video about spraying rubber on the bottoms of socks and making those into cheap barefoot shoes. thankfully my children were mostly barefoot during summer and we homeschool so they don’t spend school hours in shoes, they are adjusting much quicker then I am 🙂 my oldest has ditch his pillow and mattress already and I am still slowly chopping my foam pillow down bit by bit and getting myself ready to ditch our mattress. thankfully slow and steady will win this race to better alignment for my family and so I don’t need to rush. I appreciate all you are doing to help us all get into better health.

  7. Great post. I have some hiking boots I couldn’t bear to throw away, but also couldn’t wear because of the heel. Such a simple solution! Thanks 🙂

  8. This is awesome! I’ve been looking into doing similar things with my work shoes. It is SO HARD to find work shoes that are truly flat. I had ankle surgery last year and can’t quite do ballerina flats yet – need a bit more support than that. Even the ‘sensible’ shoe shops, complete with articles on the wall about how high heels are terrible for the body, have hardly any truly flat work appropriate shoes.

  9. My genetically flat (and I’m talking pancake flat), wide, size 10 flippers which I’ve been working on for 20 years now (I’m 50) present a different problem.
    I’ve been strengthening them with yoga and pilates foot strengthening exercises, mindfulness, fabulous corrective orthotics called, “Step Forward”. I’m all about feet and have been for a long time so I truly love all your ‘footiness’ but I find I can’t go too flat, I’m already there.

    I’m lucky enough that in my job as a holistic movement educator, I get to mostly be in barefeet and keep them strong and toned but to spend too much time in flat footwear my tendons and ligaments can’t take it. I need some heel.

    Any advice?

    The fabulous foot exercises you teach in ‘Move Your DNA’ I can teach to my students and they love it (Oh to have arches), but I can’t demo them anymore. I actually have to practise the reverse: non- working foot is up on a block, the focus foot: heel up on a small ball and I practice trying to ‘land’ into the bases of my five toes and work my arches. Make sense?

    Keep on Walking:-)

  10. You can also hack a pair of water shoes, which have no heels and flexible soles to begin with but are usually too tight in the toe box. Take some scissors and cut slits for your big and little toes to splay out. Voila! And if you take out the insole, you’ve really got a nice, thin sole.

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