If you wear high heels most days, you’re risking the health of your feet. Heels can cause permanent damage. That doesn’t mean you must wear clunky shoes forever, but it is important to be aware of how heels can affect you.
At AllCare Foot & Ankle Center, our staff, led by Dr. Michael Tran, seeks to help you enjoy the best foot health possible by providing outstanding foot care. After all, pain in your feet can limit what you do and result in a less active, enjoyable life. Unfortunately, we often see foot injuries as a result of wearing high heels.
Here, we consider some of the issues associated with wearing high heels, along with tips for choosing shoes that won’t damage your feet.
If you think about how your foot looks when you’re standing barefoot versus how it looks while you have on heels, you can begin to see the weight distribution problem with heels. Your feet are designed to be the foundation of your body, but with most of your weight forced onto your forefeet as it is when you’re wearing heels, your feet can’t do their job.
High heels put stress on the balls of your feet. Shoes with a three-inch heel force your body into an unnatural position that places around 75% of your body weight on the balls of your feet. That increased pressure and unnatural position can cause inflammation of the tendons and ligaments in your feet and could even cause stress fractures.
Just a few of the conditions you may develop as a result of wearing high heels include:
The combination of high heels and a narrow toe box squeezes your toes, while forcing your forefoot to support your body weight. Often, the result is an ingrown toenail. When the edge of your toenail grows into the soft skin surrounding it, the result is inflammation, pain, and sometimes surgical intervention.
Pointy-toed shoes, with or without a high heel, can lead to the development of bunions. In some instances, bunions require surgery. When you add a high heel to a pointy toe — a common combination — your risk of bunions and hammertoe is increased.
We’ve all seen videos of people wearing high heels, getting wobbly and falling over, and you may have even had that unfortunate experience yourself. High heels aren’t stable, particularly stilettos. Your risk of twisting an ankle is dramatically higher when you wear stilettos.
If you must wear heels, we suggest keeping a pair of comfortable walking shoes with you so that you can change when necessary. For example, if you wear heels at work, keep some sturdy shoes with you for walking at lunch.
Shoes that squeeze your toes together and put pressure on the balls of your feet compress the nerves between your third and fourth toes. When compressed, the tissue around those nerves tends to become thicker, which can cause a type of neuroma.
Neuroma causes a sharp, burning pain as well as tingling and numbness, or the feeling as if you have a rock in your shoe even when you don’t.
Most people have had the uncomfortable experience of having a blister. Wearing high heels, especially without stockings, can cause blisters. If you have diabetes or other health disorders, blisters can be quite dangerous.
Ideally, you can wear shoes that support your foot health most of the time. Look for shoes that are:
As we said at the beginning, you don’t have to give up your favorite shoes forever. If you want to wear heels, only do so occasionally. Alternate high heels with ones that are less stressful to your feet.
If you’re feeling pain in your feet, whether or not you wear heels regularly, schedule an appointment at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center. Dr. Tran can help you understand why you’re feeling pain and give you advice tailored to fit your situation. You can schedule online or by phone at either of our convenient locations.