How Bad are High Heels for Your Feet?

Women, let’s face it, wearing your favorite stilettos for a fun night out often comes with aching feet. But did you know you might be causing permanent damage to your toes and arches for the sake of fashion? While your feet may recover after a day or two, just exactly how bad are high heels for your feet?

Here at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle, we see women of all ages at our eight locations in Nashville and across middle Tennessee, with progressive and painful foot problems that can be traced back to wearing high heels. 

While our board-certified podiatrists understand that a nice pair of pumps or high-heeled boots perfectly complement your black dress and other formal or casual attire, we’d like to make a case for healthy feet being more fashionable than your footwear.

We don’t want to try and convince you to stop wearing high heels altogether, but we do want to outline some of the problems associated with wearing high-heeled shoes and suggest some fashionable alternatives for all of your gatherings.

Your feet bear your entire body weight

Your feet support your entire weight, provide mobility and balance, and are first in line when it comes to impact. When you think about their size in relation to the rest of your body, your feet have a mighty job to do every single day. 

Your feet contain one-quarter of the bones in your body, plus 100 ligaments, tendons, and muscles that all work together to support you and keep you upright. Your feet provide

balance and a wide range of motion for the rest of your body. When you stand, walk, or run, each of the components in your feet jumps into action in an amazing team effort that allows you to literally move forward in the world.

One small foot issue can lead to a big problem

Because of the complexity of how your feet function, if one small area becomes injured, for example, the effect it has over your entire foot structure can be enormous. Even if you just have a blister on the side of your baby toe, you attempt to alleviate pressure on that toe by making adjustments in how you walk. 

This, in turn, places more pressure on other areas of your foot. And after just one hour of walking differently from your usual gait, you may feel pain and discomfort in other areas of your feet. 

Apply this experience to wearing high heels. High heels are far more destructive than a blister on your baby toe. Your feet are designed to hit the ground heel first and then slowly roll up to the balls of your feet in order to propel you forward when you walk. High heels alter the way your foot pushes off the ground. 

In addition to not allowing your foot to properly roll from heel-to-toe, high heels also improperly redistribute your weight and increase the load on the front part of your foot by as much as 75% — that’s a load your forefeet were simply not designed to bear. As a result, you may experience problems in your feet, ankles, knees, and hips.

High heels squish your toes

On top of creating gait problems and unevenly loading the forces on your feet, high-heeled shoes can wreak havoc on your toes. Tall, pointy shoes often contribute to, or cause, issues like bunions, hammertoes, and ingrown toenails. In extreme cases, you can develop tiny stress fractures in your toes, which eventually lead to arthritis.

Consider ways to protect your feet, while still looking fashionable

There are ways to minimize the damage a pair of stilettos can cause your feet and your body. From a podiatrist’s perspective, we could remedy many foot problems by recommending that you throw out your high heels and never wear them again. But, we know that wearing tennis shoes with formal wear to your next evening out isn’t likely.

Platforms and wedges

Instead of ditching the heels altogether, consider lowering the height of your heels and perhaps going with a wedge style that gives you more ground area to work with. Platform heels lift your foot without forcing it into a position that puts undue pressure on the ball of your foot and your toes. 

Custom foot orthotics

Consider adding a pair of custom orthotics to your dress shoes to help balance and support your feet, too. We make orthotics thin enough to insert in many types of shoes, including heels. 

Favor some flats

While we don’t claim to be experts in fashion footwear, we are experts in feet. There are hundreds, if not thousands of cute, dressy flats that complement any outfit. Flats let you thoroughly enjoy an evening out without having to deal with aching feet during and after the party. 

Learn more ways to keep your feet healthy in all kinds of shoes. Give us a call at the Neuhaus Foot and Ankle location closest to you, or schedule an appointment online today. 

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