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High Heels And Your Feet

highheelsIt’s no secret that high heels aren’t great for your feet and often leave your feet feeling a bit sore, but did you know that high heels are one of the biggest factors leading to long term foot problems in women especially as a result of prolonged wear? Today I am going to talk to you about some of these problems as well as ways to try and maintain your foot health.

Any shoe that is too tight or changes the natural shape of your foot is going to cause pain. Adding a heel to this equation and then wearing for long periods of time and pain quickly turns into injury and damage.

The longer your feet are subjected to these unnatural positions especially when weight bearing the more you are putting yourself at risk of long term problems. You can see in the picture to the right that this woman’s weight is being completely supported by the ball of her foot. This increase in pressure can cause long term joint damage and may even lead to such things as stress fractures.

As podiatrists some of the common problems we see as a direct result of high heels include:

  • Bunions: this is when the big toe is pushed towards the little toes and as a result you are left with a bump of bone at the base of the big toe. This leads to arthritis and in severe cases can only be corrected with surgery. People with bunions have a lot of trouble buying shoes to fit and can also experience a lot of pain when walking. This problem can take years to develop so you may not notice it for a few years down the track.
  • Corns and callus: with the uneven distribution of weight and pressure on your feet it is common to get a build-up of dead skin which can be quite painful and uncomfortable. Regular visits to a podiatrist are needed to keep these issues under control.
  • Ankle sprains: the risk of falling over increases significantly for people wearing high heels as opposed to flat shoes. Ankle sprains can result in long term ligament or muscle damage and even broken bones. Ankle sprains can take a long time to heal as well and may require a few weeks of non-weight bearing (crutches or cast) so be extra careful not to fall.
  • Lower back pain: is another common side effect of high heels due to the poor posture of your spine when wearing heels. Often changing footwear can be an easy fix to lower back pain in women.

And the list goes on!

What can you do to prevent these problems?

The obvious answer to this question is to stop wearing heels or at least save them for special occasions where you are not required to do much walking. A lot of women are not ready to step away from their high heels permanently for a range of different reasons such as aesthetics or a formal work environment. If you fall into this category here are a few tips to try and look after your feet:

  • Heel height: As heels get higher the pressure on the ball of the foot increases so the lower the heel, the better. Try and limit your heels to a maximum of 5cm.
  • Pointy toes: Stay away from pointy toes shoes – heels or flats as these shoes are notorious for causing bunions, corns and callus as the toes are being squished into an area much narrower than their natural position. Round toe heels will be much more comfortable especially 10 years down the track.
  • Fit: getting the correct fit for your heels is essential. This includes width, depth and length, if you are unsure go to a shop where the staff are properly trained to fit the shoes. It is best to try shoes on in the afternoon as this is when your feet are their largest.
  • Try them on: Always try on your heels in the shop and don’t be afraid to leave them on for a few minutes and do a few laps of the shop to make sure they are right for you. Remember, if they aren’t comfortable in the shop they will only get worse when you are wearing them for a long time. If you buy shoes online make sure you check the stores return policy before you buy. When they arrive wear them around the house and return/exchange them if they aren’t quite right.
  • Walking: If you know that you have to walk to or from your destination take a pair of runners or other flat shoes and swap into your heels when you arrive. Lots of women do this to and from work. You may have noticed a lot of flight attendants wear heels around the terminal and then change into more comfortable flats for the duration of the flight.

Your feet carry you a long way over your life time and we often take them for granted until something goes wrong. Looking after them from a young age and trying to prevent problems is much easier than dealing with problems when they arise. Even some Hollywood A-listers are starting to reach for the flatties instead of heels for red carpet events. Give them a go, your feet will love you for it!


Have a great day,


We have HICAPS available in our clinic, which means that our patients can claim from their private health fund straight away

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Shop 2/17-19 East Parade
Sutherland, NSW 2232

Tel: 02 9542 3491