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The High Price of Wearing High Heels

With Fall right around the corner, there are many trends in women’s shoes and boots.  What do the popular shoe makers like Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, and Manolo Blahnik have in common?  High heels are again another feature in these shoes.

Over time heels have entered and exited the fashion realm many times.  Today nearly everyone knows that high heels are not the best shoes for daily use, but many women continue to wear them too frequently and experience the consequences.  Wearing high heels too often can cause painful problems over time, not to mention the risk of ankle sprain with every step.  Here are the top 5 issues that can develop over long term use.

Hammertoe:  When your toes are forced against the toe-box of your high heels and with the position your foot is in while wearing them hammertoes are easily developed.  Hammertoes are a deformity in which the toe curls at the middle joint. Your toes may press against the top of the toe box of your shoe, causing pain and pressure.

Bunions: Tightfitting shoes may worsen bunions — bony bumps that form on the joint at the base of your big toe in addition to a slowly dislocating joint. Bunions can also occur on the joint of your little toe (bunionettes).  Literature disagrees on whether tightfitting, pointy-toed, high-heeled shoes cause bunions or bunionettes, but such shoes can exacerbate an already existing problem.

Joint pain in the ball of the foot (metatarsalgia): High heels cause you to shift more weight to the ball of your foot, rather than distributing your weight over the entire foot. This causes increased pressure, strain, and pain in your forefoot.

Tight heel cords:  Wearing high heels all the time puts you at risk for tightening and shortening your Achilles tendon — the strong, fibrous cord that connects your calf muscle to your heel bone. Wearing high heels prevents your heel bones from regularly coming in contact with the ground, which in turn keeps your Achilles tendon from fully stretching. Over time, your Achilles tendons contract to the point that you no longer feel comfortable wearing flat shoes.

Pump bump: Also known as Haglund’s deformity, this bony enlargement on the back of your heel can become aggravated by the rigid backs or straps of high heels. Redness, pain and inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the pump bump result. Heredity may play a role in developing Haglund’s deformity, but wearing high heels can worsen the condition.

Preventing these problems is easy and in my opinion you can still wear heels… just not often.  Limiting the use of heels to special events like church, date night, weddings, important work meetings, etc. can easily prevent these long term effects. Another commonly used idea is to bring more comfortable shoes to wear to and from an event instead of heels the whole time.

If you feel you have any of these problems or have a unique issue with specialized shoes, like high heels, schedule an appointment with Sole Foot and Ankle Specialists.  By visiting our practice sooner than later will ensure your next special event isn’t the last time you wear your favorite heels.


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Tuesday 6:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Wednesday 6:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Thursday 6:30 AM – 6:00 PM
Friday 6:30 AM – 2:00 PM
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