Are High Heels Really That Bad for Your Feet?

You pause in front of the mirror, admiring the way your beautiful heels complement your outfit. You’ll only be on your feet f

Let’s face it: high heels are fashionable. You probably love the way they look, but not the way they feel. Do you sacrifice comfort for fashion? Dr. Sean Rosenblum at Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic would like to you know more about what else you’re sacrificing by wearing high heels. 

Although it may be difficult to believe, women develop progressive and sometimes irreversible foot problems because they wear high heels. Surely your long term foot health is more important than fashion? 

You may not need to give up your heels completely, but you should certainly be aware of the complications that can result from wearing them too often or for too long. There are even some great alternatives that won’t be a crime against fashion! 

Foot size versus work performed

Think about the size of your feet in relation to your body. These comparatively tiny appendages support your entire weight, allow you to move and remain balanced, and take the full impact of your weight with each step, jump, and hop. Your foot is amazing; but in order to function properly, everything else needs to work properly as well. 

To do all that they do, your feet contain one-quarter of the bones in your body, along with more than 100 ligaments, tendons, and muscles, all working together to provide support, balance, and range of motion. Any movement you make using your feet — standing, walking, running — all of those different components function in perfect concert with the others so you can move. 

A cascade of problems

Because of the complexity of your feet, if one small area is compromised, the cascading effect it has over the entire structure can be enormous. For example, if you’ve got a cut on the bottom of one toe, you favor that toe and place more pressure on the surrounding areas to pick up the slack. It doesn’t take long at all to understand how even such a small change in your gait can cause problems.  

Now here comes the bad news: High heels are far more destructive than a small cut on the bottom of your toe. Part of the amazing function of your foot involves your heel hitting the ground first, then your foot slowly rolling up to the balls of your feet. When you put on your high heels, your heel can’t strike the ground first, and your foot can’t roll in its natural way.  

In addition to not allowing your foot to roll properly, high heels redistribute your weight (improperly) and increase the load on your forefoot by as much as 75%, a load your forefeet were simply not designed to handle. In addition to causing foot pain, this odd distribution of your weight can create issues in your ankles, your knees, hips, and your lower back, too. 

All the way to the tips of your toes

On top of creating problems with your gait, causing uneven loading forces, high-heeled shoes can cause problems with your toes. Heels can cause other problems as well, like ingrown toenails, and experts believe they may contribute to bunions and hammertoe. In extreme cases, you can develop tiny stress fractures, which eventually lead to arthritis. 

Balance matters

Keeping in mind the three primary roles of your feet, support, balance, and mobility, let’s return for a moment to the size of your feet compared to these three awesome tasks, especially balance. One thing high heels do is reduce the point of balance. The bottoms of your feet are small, but not as small as the part of your heels that come in contact with the ground. 

Half steps toward foot health

In a perfect-for-feet world, you’d stop wearing heels altogether. But, wearing sneakers with that little black dress to your next holiday event isn’t likely. That said, there are ways to minimize the damage that a pair of stilettos can cause. 

For example, consider lowering the height of your heels. You may also want to consider styles that provide a little more stability, like a wedge. As well, platform heels do the job of lifting without forcing your foot into a position that ballet dancers would admire. 

Custom orthotics may be another choice if you must wear heels. We make them thin enough to insert in many dress shoes. 

Still, you may want to consider flats. There are so many colors and styles of shoes that won’t damage your feet. You can get flats that will go with just about any outfit. And who doesn’t love an evening out without aching feet to show for it?

If you have any questions about how high heels can negatively impact your feet, please feel free to call one of our offices or schedule an appointment using the online booking tool. 

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