High Heel Shoes – What a Pain!

by Ruth A. McKinney, DC

High heel shoes were originally designed for men riding horses to keep their feet from slipping out of the stirrups. Somewhere along the way women picked up the fashion, and the rest is history. A stylish pair of 4-inch heels can complete an outfit. The suffering caused by high heels doesn’t stop many women from wearing them regularly, but at what cost?


Wearing heels causes your ankles to bend as though you’re standing on your tip toes. The most common problem caused with wearing high heels are bunions, the painful lump on the side of the big toe. Hammer toes (bent toes) and metatarsalgia (pain of the middle three toes) are also associated with high heels.


Wearing three to four inch heels puts a great deal of stress on knee joints, increasing the probability of developing osteoarthritis, a chronic degenerative condition affecting millions of Americans. The higher the shoe heel, the more the knee bends when the foot strikes the ground, putting greater pressure on the knee joint. Being overweight makes this situation even worse. Walking with your knees slightly bent puts 200% more strain on your knees.


Heel height is less important than the slope of the shoe. To decrease foot strain, choose a shoe with a platform sole which distributes your weight more evenly across the entire foot. A thicker heel will decrease the risk of ankle sprains, and a wider toe box provides more room for the toes. If you’re going to wear higher heels, make sure they fit snugly so that your foot doesn’t slide back and forth causing blisters.


Women are three times more likely than men to wear shoes that are too small. Super high heels cause wear and tear on feet and ankles, knees, hips and spine, increasing the likelihood of developing osteoarthritis. Take your heels down a notch and give your feet a break!

To learn how Chiropractic can help foot and leg pain call our office at 423-485-8480.
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