How High Heels Affect Your Feet


It’s no surprise that high heels aren’t good for your feet, but what exactly happens to your feet after wearing heels for hours on end? When you’re in any kind of shoe that has elevation or a heel, your weight gets shifted forward to the ball of the foot and therefore, the higher the heel, the more weight and pressure gets applied. Ultimately, it throws off your body’s alignment and causes damage to other parts of the body such as your feet, ankles, lower leg, hip, and spine.


Foot Problems that Develop from Wearing High Heels:

  • Metatarsalgia – Overuse of the fat pad in your forefoot causes it to gradually become thinner over time, causing severe pain.
  • Stress Fractures – Strain on the bones over time puts you at a higher risk of fractures/breaks.
  • Bunions – The swollen, bony protrusion that forms on the side of the big toe becomes aggravated due to the narrow toe box often found in heels and other poorly fitting shoes.
  • Morton’s Neuroma – A thickening of nerve tissue that frequently develops between the metatarsals as a result of compression and irritation of the nerve.
  • Sprains – The higher the heel, the more your body is thrown off balance, putting you at a higher risk of twisting your foot or ankle.
  • Hammertoes – A contracture deformity which causes the middle joint to bend and become stuck in a curled position, frequently caused by a narrow toe box.
  • Plantar Fasciitis – High heels leave you with a weakened arch, so when you suddenly switch to more supportive shoes, it leaves you with an arch that can’t effectively absorb impact or support your weight.

Overall, the best thing to do is to not wear heels, but if you do, the American Podiatric Medical Association offers some basic guidelines for choosing better-for-you heels:

  • Avoid heels higher than two inches.
  • A high stiletto with a pointy, closed toe is the worst type of shoe for your feet. Instead, choose heels with a generous toe box area and extra cushioning at the front of the shoe.
  • Consider wearing supportive shoes during your commute and changing into high heels after you arrive at the office. This simple step will help minimize the time your feet spend in heels.
  • Kitten heels are a foot-friendly option for heel wearers. With a heel height typically less than one inch, kitten heels deliver a bit of height without the pressure that higher heels can cause.
  • Be extra careful when wearing platforms or wedges, as these styles can compromise your balance and stability. Very high shoes may lead to ankle rolls and falls. Choose lower platforms and wedges that secure with ankle straps.

If you start to notice any type of foot pain or problem, our podiatrists, Marc A. Borovoy, DPM, and John D. Miller, DPM, are experts in all areas of foot and ankle care, and will be happy to assist you with any problems you may be experiencing. Feel free to contact our office at (248)348-5300 or request an appointment on our website.

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