High heels may look stylish, but they can hurt your feet. About a third of women who wear high heels have fallen while wearing the shoes, reports the American Osteopathic Association. Besides injuries, wearing shoes with high heels also is a key factor contributing to foot problems. Although regular wear can lead to permanent foot problems, if you aren't yet ready to give up your favorite high-heeled shoes, it helps to know what you're up against so you can avoid harming your feet.
Ankle Sprains and Foot Fractures
If you take a misstep when wearing high heels and trip, you can end up with a sprained ankle or even a bone fracture. When you wear high-heeled shoes, your heel rolls inward -- a movement that makes it easier to sprain your ankle. Stretching your calf and foot muscles after wearing high heels prevents them from tightening. Exercise helps keep these muscles stronger, so if you do take a spill, you'll be less likely to get hurt.
Many styles of high-heeled shoes don't offer the proper arch support. That means if you have a flat foot, you're putting more pressure on the joints where your foot attaches to the toes.
If you are genetically predisposed to inheriting bunions, high heels may not cause the bony bumps at the bottom of your big toe, but they can make them worse. Shoes that are tight besides can make any existing foot problems worse.
Pain in the Ball of the Foot
High heels put more pressure on the ball of the foot. This pressure causes the fatty deposits under the ball of your foot to wear down, leaving the bottoms of your feet with less natural cushioning. However, your feet need cushioning to the lessen the impact walking has on your body.
Chronic inflammation of the tiny sesamoid bones located beneath the big toe joint causes pain in that area. While the pain usually comes and goes, it can be intense and often gets worse over time.
Wearing certain types of shoes, including high heels, puts more pressure on the front of the foot when you transfer your body weight onto your toes as you walk. The sesamoid bones help the big toe move as it pushes off when you walk.
Low Back Pain
The shoes you wear on your feet give you support and help keep your body properly aligned. But wearing shoes that aren't cushioned is harder on your back.
Your feet aren't the only things that need a solid foundation. Your spine does too. The problem with high-heeled shoes is they put uneven wear on the joints, ligaments, and discs in your back. As body parts wear out, pain normally follows.
What You Can Do
Although shoes with high heels aren't the best for your feet, there are steps you can take to help keep your feet healthy if you can't do without wearing this style of shoe.
Go with heels that are no more than two inches high. This advice comes form the American Podiatric Medical Association. A wider heel provides more support for the arch of your foot. Wear higher heels, and you increase your risk of foot and ankle problems.
Get the right fit. Unless you can walk comfortably in high heels, wear a dress shoe with lower heels. If your foot has a higher arch, you may do better at wearing high heels than others do.
Select a shoe with padding to cushion your toes. As you get older, you begin to lose some of the fatty padding on the bottom of your foot. That means less shock absorption. For shoes that don't have cushioning, place metatarsel pads in them to decrease pressure on the forefoot.
Choose a shoe with a toe box that's wide enough for a comfortable fit. Stay away from narrow or pointy shoes that squeeze your toes. A shoe should provide a snug, but not a tight fit.
If a shoe is too roomy, the front of your feet will slide forward when you walk. This also puts pressure on your toes.
Avoid wearing high heels for extended periods of time. When you expect to be on your feet for a while, thicker heels give you better stability when you walk. A shoe with a thick heel distributes the weight on your foot more evenly
- Talk to experts like Allied Ankle & Foot Care Centers PC for more information.