Are High Heels Really That Bad for Your Feet?

High-heeled shoes are beautiful. They’re fashionable. They can be formal or fun. And if you wear them often, they can really damage your feet. Not only in a “my feet are sore” kind of way, but in a more permanent way as well. If you’re asking yourself if high heels are really that bad for your feet, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

High heels increase pressure on your feet

Each step you take starts with a heel strike, as you step onto your heel before rolling forward onto the ball of the foot and pushing off to take the next step. With each heel strike, your foot is taking the force of three times your body weight before it’s dispersed throughout the rest of the foot as you move through your step. High heels don’t allow the force to be distributed evenly.

Even if you’re just standing still, high heels put your foot into a partially flexed position and increase the pressure on the ball of your foot (called your forefoot). Gravity works against your feet when you’re in heels, and the higher they are, the worse it is.

High heels compress your toes

High heels also often compress the toes into the shoe’s narrow toe box. When you wear them hour after hour, day after day, your foot can become deformed in any of several ways. You can develop:

  • Bunions — a large, often painful lump of bone on the outside of your foot that develops when the bone or tissue at the big toe joint moves out of place
  • Hammer toes — a deformity in your second, third, or fourth toes that causes them to bend forward at the middle joint, so they look like hammers
  • Neuromas — a thickening of the tissue surrounding the nerves that lead to your toes, causing a painful bump

High heels destabilize your ankles

Because they put your foot in a flexed position, high heels decrease the range of motion and strength available to your ankles. The raised heel position shortens your calf muscles and your Achilles tendon. Over time, you can develop Achilles tendinitis as a result. High heels also place your ankle in a position likely to cause an ankle sprain.

And don’t forget the rest of your body — high heels cause your posture to be misaligned. This can result in problems throughout your body, including knee problems, hip problems, and back problems. High heels are tough on your balance as well, increasing the risk of injury.

They may be beautiful, but if you want to keep your feet healthy for a lifetime, give those high heels a pass.

Summit Orthopedics offers personalized foot and ankle expertise

Our fellowship-trained foot and ankle physicians understand that your mobility depends on the health of your feet and ankles. If you have suffered an injury or are experiencing symptoms that make walking painful, our team of foot and ankle specialists can help with conservative treatment, seasoned surgical teams, and expert rehabilitation support. Summit Orthopedics specialists have the expertise to evaluate your discomfort and develop a plan to quickly and safely get you back on your feet and on your way.

Start your journey to optimal foot health. Find your foot and ankle expert, schedule an appointment online, or call us at (651) 968–5201 to schedule a consultation.

Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MNVadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.

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