I was recently asked by a journalist to comment on how high heels wreak havoc with women’s feet. I know how you like a beautiful pair of pumps, but I have to be honest with you – feet damaged by those instruments of torture will keep me in business until I decide to retire.
How exactly do high heels damage your feet?
When you wear high heels, your foot points downward, with the majority of stress placed on the forefoot (see the pic). The more you subject your feet to this position and stress, the more likely you’ll be to develop bunions, corns, calluses, pinched nerves (neuroma), hammertoes, and pain in the foot called metatarsalgia. Not only that, but the position of your feet in heels also affect your calf muscles, effectively shortening them. When these muscles are shortened, you have less power pushing off the ground when you walk. That’s why your legs get so tired in heels.
If that weren’t enough, the Achilles tendon also is shortened in this position, which can lead to a condition called Insertional Achilles Tendonitis, an irritation of the tendon where it inserts into the heel bone, causing heel pain.
But wait, there’s more…
With all of that pressure and squeezing at the front of the foot, you can also develop toenail issues, like ingrown toenails, nail infections and toenail fungal infections. Not to mention the occasional sprained ankle when that heel gets stuck in the pavement.
What can I do to relieve pain from high heels?
The first step in recognizing a problem is admitting there’s a problem. So first say out loud, “Pain from footwear is not normal”. Repeat 3 times to make it stick.
Here are a few ideas on how to relieve your high heel pain
- Don’t be a slave to fashion – swap high heels for flats as often as possible
- Avoid high heels with pointy toes – there’s no room for your feet in there
- If you have wide feet, buy wide shoes
- If you have pain in your feet when you wear high heels, try using a gel insole or metatarsal pad for extra comfort
- Visit my office for an exam, where I’ll tell you to stop wearing high heels
High heels can also cause pain in your ankles and back, including pinched nerves. So if you have pain anywhere that you believe might be related to your high heel habit, switch to flats right away and whenever possible, wear athletic shoes to give your feet additional support and comfort.
Then visit Allentown’s top podiatrists for a thorough examination to make sure you don’t have long lasting problems with your feet.