Approximately 77% of women don high heels for formal events such as weddings, while approximately half of American women will wear heels for parties or a night out to dinner. Many people feel that high heels can really complete a look. Of course, the problem is that they aren’t good for you. Regardless of how comfortable they are, they likely leave your feet aching. Metatarsalgia, or a pain in the balls of your feet, may occur after a few hours of excessive downward force on them. This may also cause an ache in your lower back or pain in your knees. The worse the problem, the higher the heel. A heel that is one inch high exerts about 22% more pressure on the ball of your foot than a flat shoe. There is 75% more pressure on your forefoot when wearing a three-inch heel!
Wearing high heels every once in a while probably won’t cause any immediate dangers to your health, but wearing them daily or even weekly could very well be harmful. Wearing high heels comes with a few potential risks. There is less tension in your Achilles tendon when you are wearing heels than when you are standing flat. A shorter tendon results from less tension over time. Wearing heels, especially heels that are three inches or higher, can lead to stress fractures, which are small cracks in the bones of your feet that occur without injury.
Wearing high heels can often lead to a pinched nerve, called Morton’s neuroma. You may feel as if you have a pebble under your foot or as if there’s a fold in your sock between your third and fourth toe. If you have Morton’s neuroma, you may experience burning, tingling, numbness, or pain in the ball of your foot that radiates toward your toes. If switching shoes doesn’t help, treatment may include injections or surgery.
Wearing high heels can result in pain, so the best way to protect yourself is by not wearing them. You can do a few things to mitigate the harmful effects of wearing them, however. If you wear heels, your toes are squished, and if you wear shoes with a pointed toe, the toes are even more crowded. You have a higher risk of developing bunions and hammertoe, as well as fungal infections, if you wear heels. There are cosmetic issues with bunions and hammertoe, but more importantly, both conditions are quite painful. If changing shoes doesn’t help, your only other option may be surgery.
Stretch and Strengthen
Before and after you wear heels, be sure to carefully and methodically stretch the muscles in your legs. Strengthening your calves will help you have better balance and lessen the likelihood of falling or spraining an ankle.
Go Lower and Wider
A lower heel exerts less pressure on the balls of your feet, provides better stability, and is generally safer all around. A wider toe box gives your toes more room to move and also relieves the pressure on the ball of your foot. A wider heel provides better stability, as well.
If you’re worried about the damage your favorite cute shoes may be causing, book a consultation to get advice and suggestions on how to avoid injury.