Women have known for years that high heels are not good for their feet, and most will not deny that they can be extremely uncomfortable. Still, high heels remain an important fashion piece! It is understandable that women choose to wear heels, but it is also important to realize the potential damage that high heels can cause to your feet. You may very well be underestimating the damage that high heels can cause, beyond just having sore feet. The truth is the human foot is not designed to withstand wearing high heels excessively, and continuing to do so can cause great harm to your feet.
According to the American Osteopathic Association, 1 out of every 3 women are left to face permanent foot damage due to excessively wearing high heels, which is also the leading cause of foot pain in women1. Common issues that result from excessively wearing high heels are calluses, bunions, hammer toes, nerve pain, ingrown toenails, stress fractures, corns, lower back pain, and possibly the worse of them all: a shortened Achilles tendon. Excessively wearing high heels can, over time, shorten the muscles in your calves and in your back, which can later lead to back and leg pain as well as muscle spasms1. This long term abuse can cause these symptoms to persist even when you are not wearing high heels and can sometimes only be corrected with surgery1.
So why is it that high heels cause so much pain exactly?
High heels are not designed with the shape of your foot in mind but rather a particular image/style. This disregard for foot mechanics can (and often does) result in footwear that, while stylish, results in damage to the foot. Then there are those who suffer from pre-existing foot conditions that are left untreated and worsen over time. High heels do no favors here, and often exacerbate the pre-existing problems. To make matters even worse, when wearing high heels, the pressure and weight of the entire body is placed on the ball of the feet and held in a unpleasant position instead of the weight being evenly distributed across the whole foot, such as when wearing flats or tennis shoes. Ideally, it is best to wear a lower and wider heel for better weight distribution as well as prevent your body from leaning forward and creating a stain on your lower back.
Lets be honest!
We know high heels are not going anywhere because it has become too much of an essential part of a woman’s wardrobe. So if saying no to high heels just isn’t going to work for you, you might want to start considering some pain prevention methods. The American Osteopathic Association recommends that women utilize high heel inserts to comfort and support their feet as much as possible while wearing high heels1 (see examples below). We suggest three options for pain relief:
1. Gel 3/4-Length Insoles: Gel 3/4 insoles such as Pedag Lady Gel or Apara Slingies are not only flexible for cooling support but also thin, so you can wear them in just about any style shoe. The ¾ design won’t prevent you from rocking your favorite open-toe styles while also giving you the heel, arch and metatarsal comfort you need.
2. 3/4-Length Orthotic Arch Supports: Orthotic 3/4 arch supports that are great for those who need a little more arch support and heel stabilization. The ¾ design makes this shoe insert great for pumps. sling backs, and other open toe shoes. The orthotic design of these insoles helps to reduce over pronation and centers the foot for overall alignment. Superfeet has several great options to choose from such as the Superfeet Deluxe and the Superfeeet me’s.
3. Shoe Inserts: These are perfect if you experience pain and/or slipping in specific areas of your shoe, such as the forefoot or toe area. The Pedag Princess Insert, Pedag Feel Good Metatarsal Pad or Apara Gel Steppies may be just what you need for a little boost of comfort or foot control. These inserts can ease pain and the reduce the chance of blisters while providing the targeted pain relief or support you need without the excess bulk of an insole. So even if you aren’t ready to kick your high heel addiction just yet, there are ways today to help prevent future injuries.
1The Real Harm in High Heels. American Osteopathic Association, American Osteopathic Association.2015.Web.10 Nov 2015