High Heels – High Fashion That Can Hurt Your Feet

When it comes to footwear women should use extra care in selecting and wearing high heels.  The three and four-inch heights or thin stiletto heel styles can lead to a variety of foot and ankle problems.  With higher shoes, your feet tend to slip forward.  This may amplify discomfort, especially if the shoes don’t fit properly in the first place.  Women should look for shoes with padding in the forefoot area, cushioning the toes and ball of the foot, making sure there is sufficient shoe width to maintain comfort. 

A stable heel is also important to the well-being of the foot and ankle.  Stability is maintained when the heel of the foot is firmly enclosed by the shoe, with the stiffest support being the best.  Women should walk in high heel shoes before making a purchase.  Walk on bare floors, not just the carpeted floor in the shoe display area of the store.

Common high heel-related injuries include sesamoiditis (inflammation and swelling), neuromas (nerve damage), and metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot).  Less frequent but all too common high heel related injuries include ankle sprains and even bone fractures of the foot. 

Such common maladies as bunions or hammertoes are accelerated by ill-fitting or excessively high heels.  Walking in these shoes will change a woman’s gait pattern, which can affect the legs and back.  Poor shock absorption of the shoes can also contribute to back pain.  Such longer term conditions as arthritis in the toe and ankle joints can be exacerbated by excessive wearing of high heels.

Fashion editors point to high heels as enhancing the appearance of a woman’s legs as calf muscles contract and adjust to the angle of high heel shoes.  Do some basic leg stretching exercises after wearing heels will help avoid excessive tightening of the calf muscles and Achilles tendon.  Wearing high heels on a regular basis over the years can cause these muscles and tendons to permanently contract, making walking in flat shoes or even bare feet more difficult.