Are High Heels Bad For Your Health?

That feeling of relief, taking off your beloved heels after a long day of tottering in them! It can only be compared to taking off your ski boots after a day of conquering difficult ski runs. But, is the pain worth it? Are high heels good or bad for you? Can high heels really cause health problems?

Heels make us feel good about ourselves, sexy. Victoria Beckham has famously been quoted to say, that she can’t concentrate in flats. High heels make our legs look longer and a pair of stilettos transforms any outfit in seconds. But wearing heels on a daily basis can have a serious impact on your Health.

Here are 4 reasons why you should think twice about wearing high heels on a daily basis:

1. High heels and back pain

Have you noticed that your back hurts after wearing your favourite stilettos? According to the Spinal Health Institute, when you wear heels, your body fights to maintain balance. In perfect posture (think of Pilates), your spine is straight, shoulders are down, your calf muscles are relaxed and the weight is evenly distributed between all toes. On the contrary, when you wear heels, your body tries to compensate for the loss of balance as the heels shift the body weight forwards. You end up pushing your chest and your lower back forward, misaligning your hips and spine. Your knees, calves, heels and toes suffer too; trying to cope with the excess pressure. End result? Increased risk of:

  • Slippage of a vertebra (causing a chronic back pain)
  • Foraminal stenosis, a spinal nerve condition causing shooting pain, numbness and muscle weakness in the lower back (one of the causes of sciatica)

2. High heels and bunions

If you have noticed that you have a swollen big toe, persistent pain in your big toe joint, have difficulty walking or find your shoes do not suddenly fit properly you may be developing a bunion. A painful bony lump on the side of your foot. Bunions are often caused by wearing narrow, high shoes which push your toes into an unnatural position. Using comfy wide shoes with inserts and padding may help relieve the symptoms. Alternatively, you may need a surgery to help you realign your big toe. If you suffer from bunions, avoid high heels altogether!

3. High heels and leg and knee pain

High heels can cause shortening and overworking of muscle fibres around your ankle, causing pain in the Achilles tendon and increased risk of sprains and strains. Your kneecap is under lots of pressure too, and the continuous strain might result in developing knee osteoarthritis, causing your knee to become painful and stiff. High heels also contribute to injuries, especially after a drink or two, including sprained ankles or broken bones. However, ladies with insertional achilles tendinosis have a good reason to wear at least heel lifts to look a bit sexier. It has been proven that heel lifts might be helpful for patients with insertional achilles tendinosis because the heel moves away from the back of the shoes can reduces the impingement of the heel against the shoe. In addition, heel lifts takes some strain off the achilles tendon and is therefore recommended.

4. High heels and feet problems

Most heels, especially the fashionable pointed ones, force your foot to slide forward. To compensate, you have to bend and squash your toes, resulting in damaged nerves or fibrotic tissue in your feet. Blisters, calluses and even ingrown nails are not uncommon either, not to mention painful, slow to heal ulcers, which can develop at the ball of the foot. Ouch!

Do I have to give up high heels altogether?

Well, that’s up to you, but the medical experts agree that:

  • Wearing thicker, shorter heels (wedges) is better for you, with the heel height of up to two inches
  • If you wear high heels, wear them for a short period of time, preferably when you have a chance to sit down
  • Swap your shoes on a daily basis
  • Invest in a good pair of comfortable, wider shoes to give your feet a break

Get a second opinion

If you are worried about suffering from bunions, joint issues or any other symptoms mentioned above, consult one of our 25 leading musculoskeletal medical imaging experts around the world for a second medical opinion. Our experts can review your X-ray, CT or MRI scan or PET-CT scan and provide you with an online consultation, a detailed report and follow up communication within 1-4 days.


Related articles:

Relieve Your Back Pain, By Dr. Christopher C. Hancock

Causes of Knee Pain in the Athletic Youth, By Dr. Daniel Saurborn

What Should Be Done? Bad Sprain of Your Knee, By Dr. Laurence Bellaiche


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