Yes, High Heels Really Are That Bad for Your Feet

Yes, High Heels Really Are That Bad for Your Feet

It’s finally time to party for the holidays, and you want to do it right. You found the perfect dress, the perfect hairstyle, and the perfect high-heeled pumps — but you might want to question that word “perfect.”

While a beautiful pair of shoes may have the lines, crafting, and style of a fine work of art, that doesn’t mean those shoes belong on your feet. In fact, over time, beautiful shoes can make your feet downright ugly — and painful. 

At Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic, our expert podiatrist Sean Rosenblum, DPM, cares about your feet. He wants you to care for your feet, too, so you can spend more time on the dance floor and less time here at Foot and Ankle Care of Passaic in Lodi, New Jersey.

We don’t (necessarily) want you to throw away your favorite shoes, but we’d like you to consider your toes before you cram them into a toe box that may be beautiful but too tight. Consider, for a moment, high-heeled shoes from your feet’s point of view.

A heavy burden

Looking up at your body, your relatively small feet have a heavy load to carry. Those tiny appendages must support your entire weight, provide mobility and balance, and are first in line when it comes to impact. 

The human foot is an engineering marvel. However, as with most engineering marvels, your feet rely on everything else in your body to function as designed.

To provide you with support, balance, and range of motion, your feet contain one-quarter of the bones in your body, along with more than 100 ligaments, tendons, and muscles, that all work together. When you stand, walk, or run, each of these components jumps into action in an astonishing team effort that allows you to make your way through the world.

Now, take those 52 bones in a pair of feet, squeeze the toes together in a sexy sling-back pump, and elevate the heel so that it’s 4-5 inches higher than the toes and balanced precariously on a pencil-thin heel. What do you think your feet say to that? How well can they balance and support you now?

A team effort

If you compromise just one small area of your foot, the cascading effect can be enormous. For example, if you have a blister on a toe, you avoid putting your weight on that toe and place more pressure on the surrounding areas to pick up the slack. 

After even just one hour of limping, you begin to understand how much this new gait hurts uninjured areas on your feet. You think that’s bad? High heels are far more destructive to your feet and gait than a small cut on the bottom of your toe. 

When you walk, your feet are designed to hit the ground heel first and then slowly roll up to the balls of your feet in order to push off for another stride. When you put on your high heels, you hamper how your foot pushes off. 

High heels also improperly redistribute your weight, and increase the load on your forefoot by as much as 75% — a load your forefeet were simply not designed for. This not only causes problems in your feet, but in your ankles, knees, and hips.

Your toes bear the brunt

High-heeled shoes can wreak havoc on your toes. The small, pointed toe boxes crowd your toes together, creating blisters, calluses, and corns.

High heels worsen and sometimes cause more serious issues such as bunions, hammertoes, and ingrown toenails. You might even develop tiny stress fractures, which eventually lead to arthritis.

Meet us halfway

Your feet desperately want you to throw out all of your high heels and never wear them again. But, we know that you’re unlikely to wear sneakers with that little black dress at your next holiday event. 

So meet your toes in the middle and try to minimize the damage a pair of stilettos causes. For example, lower the height of your heels or perhaps choose a wedge style that gives you more ground area to work with. Platform heels offer height without forcing your foot into a position that ballerinas would envy. 

We can also design custom orthotics to help balance and align your feet. We can even make orthotics thin enough to insert in most dress shoes. 

Finally, we’re still going to argue for flats. We’re not exactly experts in fashion footwear, but we are experts in feet, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of cute, supportive flats that will complement any outfit. Who doesn’t love an evening on the town without aching feet at the end of it?

In the meantime, if your feet complain about the type of shoes you wear — or if you have foot pain or other issues you’d like to resolve — contact us online or over the phone for a foot care consultation or custom orthotics today. 

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