Recently, I’ve attended several events and traveled to several cities, where I saw many women wearing very high heels that rose two, three, even four or five inches off the ground. Admittedly, I may be a little envious since I can’t wear high heels myself (due to pronated feet and two ankle injuries), but I began worrying about the millions of smart, suave, sophisticated ladies, who may be causing irreparable damage, all because they want to look chic.
Undoubtedly you’ve seen or are among those women, who walk awkwardly, tilt forward while standing, and aren’t comfortable in their own shoes.
So just how dangerous are high heels? You’ll be astounded.
I’m not advocating ditching your high heels. But limiting wearing them makes sense. Matthew Garoufalis, DPM and past president of the APMA agrees. “With high heels, moderation is key. It’s best not to wear them every day,” he wrote in an May 19, 2014, APMA article.
Why are high heels so dangerous? To begin, they put your ankle joint in an unnatural position by forcing your foot into plantar flexion (flexing your toes or foot downward in the direction of the sole of your foot).
Now before you dismiss my concerns about high heels as crazy, consider some of recent findings:
- Wearing high heels changes the mechanics of the knee joint due to an altered gait. Researchers at Stanford University Medical Center found these changes similar to those seen in the progression of knee osteoarthritis and aging. (Journal of Orthopaedic Research, March 2015)
- Long-term high heel wearers showed large increases in muscle strains compared to when they walked barefoot. Scientists from Finland and Australia predicted that long-term use could increase the risk of strain injuries whether walking in heels or out of heels. (Journal of Applied Physiology, January 2012)
- The shock from striking the ground with your foot could travel all the way up your spine. Researchers say this can cause soft tissue damage, which can lead to back and leg pain and even degenerative joint disorders. (Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, 2014)
And that, as I’ve discovered, can cause back pain.
Other foot conditions linked to high heels aren’t pretty either. You can get:
- Achilles tendon tightness
- Plantar fasciitis- inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament which runs along the bottom of the foot and attaches to the heel
- Haglund’s deformity- a protrusion from the back of the heel due to increased pressure on the heel bone
- Ankle Injuries
- Metatarsalgia- pain and inflammation of the ball of the foot
- Hammer Toes- curled toes due to bends in the middle of the toe joint
- Morton’s Neuroma- thickening of the tissue surrounding a nerve that leads to your toes. It can cause a burning pain in the bottom of the foot.
Sure, when you wear high heels, you and your outfit may look amazing. But should fashion trump function?
Please join the conversation. Have high heels caused you pain? Will you continue to wear them anyhow?