By Brian Acton
They’re often considered high fashion, but high heel shoes are also known for being uncomfortable and difficult to wear. Wearing high heels too much can even have negative outcomes for your health.
Occasionally wearing high heels for an evening shouldn’t cause too much lasting damage, but wearing them all the time can cause issues. Here are five ways that wearing high heels can lead to health problems.
- Increased Risk of Ankle Sprains
High heels increase the risk of an ankle sprain - especially lateral sprains, in which you roll your ankle onto the outside of your foot, stretching your ankle ligaments beyond their normal ability. This increased risk can be caused by the instability of heels compared to flat shoes, and by stepping on cracks or holes on the ground.
- Increased Risk of Developing Foot Pain
Frequent wearers of high heels may be more likely to experience foot and toe pain later in life. Foot pain in older adults can have many causes, but high heels could be a significant contributor. Some studies have shown that people who frequently wear high heels were more likely to report foot pain compared to women who wore comfortable shoes.
- Additional Pressure on the Knees
We may not be able to point to high heels as a direct cause of osteoarthritis, but they do put added strain on your knees. Wearing high heels can actually change the way you walk and affect your speed and length of your stride. This altered gait can put additional pressure on the knees and put the wearer at risk of developing knee arthritis. The higher the heels, the greater the additional pressure.
- Causing or Exacerbating Toe Problems
Squeezing your toes into a narrow toe box in a pointed shoe can lead to toe problems or make existing issues worse. Toe problems associated with high heel use include hammer toes, corns, and damaged or ingrown toenails.
- Pain Throughout the Lower Body
High heels don’t just affect the feet. Because your entire body carries itself differently when wearing high heels, other areas can be affected. High heels throw your body out of its natural posture, causing your knees to take on additional pressure and your hip flexors and calf muscles to tighten. You may arch your lower back more than normal.
This can lead to back, knee, calf, and hip pain.
High heels shouldn’t cause too many issues if you use them in moderation. Make sure to keep a pair of flats as backup to change into, and don’t make high heels a daily footwear. When you can, choose a shorter heel - the higher the heel, the greater contortions your body has to go through to stay upright.