High-heeled shoes are a fixture in our society, used by women to add a bit of height, extend their profile, and dress up for events. However, high heels come with many significant risks that should be considered, especially by women who prefer them for daily use.
For starters, they can cause lower back, knee, ankle, and foot pain. Over extended use, they can also create imbalances, including shortened calf muscles and hyperextended or shortened ligaments in the forefoot area. But above all, high heels force the foot into a position that places tremendous stress on the toes and ball of the foot. This area is subjected to so much pressure that toe deformities, including bunions and hammertoe, are much more common – almost expected – among women with a lifelong preference for high heels. Furthermore, the contact point at the ball of the foot can lead to problems such as metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, and capsulitis, among others.
They also alter a woman’s gait, reducing her stability and making her more prone to slip and fall accidents, ankle sprains, and fractures. Unfortunately, early warning signs are often dismissed as the “price of beauty,” which can allow injuries and deformities to advance and compound.
Our recommendations are to limit the use of high heeled shoes, saving them for special events – ideally less than 3-4 hours. Also, keeping the heel height to 2 inches or under improves stability and subjects the forefoot to less destructive pressure. Comfort is also important…some women are willing to sacrifice comfort for style, but try finding heels that fit the whole foot well, provide at least some cushioning, and don’t excessively constrict any part of the foot.