Think Twice Before Wearing High Heels

By office
December 10, 2010
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High Heels

You may want to think twice about wearing those high heels everyday. Even though heels maybe considered "fashionable" and can make your legs look longer and your ankles thinner, you could be causing more damage to your feet than you know.

Some of the long term side effects you can suffer from wearing high heels include inflamed nerves and ligaments, shortened Achilles tendon and calf muscles, hammertoes, bunions, corns, ingrown toenails, as well as having bad posture. Many of these problems are caused by the increased pressure high heels put on the ball of the foot. One thing to remember is the higher the heel, the greater the pressure you are placing on that area.

When you wear heels higher than an inch and a half, you lift the heel up to an unnatural height which throws your balance off and could lead to falls. This will make your body compensate by adjusting the back, hips, and shoulders. This compensation causes bad posture and can lead to lower back pain, leg pains and headaches. The change in the position of your spine can also cause sciatica, a painful condition where nerves become trapped, triggering pain and numbness as far down as the feet.

Wearing high heels may also be linked to knee osteoarthritis. This is a painful degenerative joint disease characterized by the breakdown of the cartilage surrounding the knee. Wearing high heels puts repetitive pressure and stress on the knee joint. You may not notice this at first, but by the time you do feel the effects of knee osteoarthritis, it's too late to undo the damage you have already done.

You can also permanently damage your Achilles tendon. This is the tendon that runs along the back of your leg from your heel. The tendon is designed to be flexible so your foot can lie flat, but with continued high heel wear the tendon becomes shortened. This happens because your heel points upwards and tightens up. Stretching it again is very painful. You will also experience pain if you try wearing flat shoes because of this reason. This problem can be avoided by wearing heels that are 1.5 inches in height or lower. Once you reach the heel height of 3 inches or higher, that is when you start to shorten the Achilles tendon. You don't need to wear these higher heels everyday to have this type of damage. Just wearing them 2-3 times a week is all it takes.

Some other complaints you might have if you are wearing tight, ill-fitting shoes includes bunions or hammertoes. Bunions are bony growths at the base of the big toe. The big toe will angle inwards towards the other toes and the bump can become swollen, inflamed, painful and unsightly. Hammertoes will develop because the shoes will force the toes to crumple up. This shortens the muscles inside and leaving them permanently bent. You may also experience the "pump bump". This is where the straps and the rigid backs of pump style shoes cause a bony enlargement on the heel.


If after reading all of this and you still can't give up your high heels, you may want to try a couple of these suggestions. Try wearing a heel with a slightly thicker heel. This will help to distribute the weight more evenly. Also wear soft insoles to reduce the impact on your knees. You also want to make sure your shoe fits snug and your foot doesn't slide forward. This causes more pressure on your toes. If you plan on a night of dancing in your high heels, put them on for a couple of hours before you go out. This way, your feet get a chance to get used to them.


If you are experiencing any of these problems from wearing high heels, please contact Dr. Vail at 419-423-1888 or visit our website at to schedule your appointment today.