Your favorite stilettos can make your feet hurt, but did you know that these high heels may also be hurting your ankles, knees, back, and more
1. Pain in the Ball of Your Foot?
Simply put, wearing high heels will place a lot of pressure on the ball of your foot. Your body is used to balancing on both the front and the back of your foot so, when you tilt your foot forward in a high heeled shoe, your forefoot will be subjected to much more pressure and possibly pain.
According to a recent study, this pain in the ball of the foot is called metatarsalgia. Over time, this pressure can even lead to stress fractures. The good news is that you can easily decrease the pain by decreasing your heel’s height. Research shows that while wearing three-inch heels, 76 % of your foot’s pressure is on the forefoot, but when wearing two-inch heels the pressure decreases to about 57 % and in one-inch heels it decreases to 22 % (2). That’s cutting the pain by more than half with a decrease of just two inches.
2. Pain in the Heel of Your Foot
Your Achilles tendon, or the band of tissue stretching from the back of your heel all the way to your calf, lengthens and shortens with your foot movement. When you point your toes and your heel rises closer to your calf (like you do when wearing heels), your Achilles tendon shortens. But too much shortening is a bad thing.?Because the Achilles connects to the plantar fascia (the ligament that stretches across the bottom of your foot), shortening the Achilles will pull on the plantar fascia, causing it stress. The result is a form of pain in your heel and arch known as plantar fasciitis. (1)
3. Knee Pain
High heels can place increased pressure upon your knees. When you shift the pressure on your foot forward by strapping on high heels, the center of gravity of your body immediately moves forward, too. Unfortunately your knees feel the brunt of this change as they struggle to keep your body up and balanced in this shifted position. In fact, in a recent study, wearing heels over 1 inches in height demonstrated increased forward pressure upon the upper leg bone and it can possibly increase the risk of arthritis in the knees. (3)
4. Back Pain
Because your legs are pushed forward in high heels, your upper body is forced backward to counterbalance your lower body. Your lower back arches, your chest is pushed forward, and the normal ‘s-curve’ of the spine (which typically acts as a shock absorber for the vertebrae) is shifted forward placing more pressure upon the joints of the lower back. Over time the increased pressure can lead to arthritic changes. (2)
5. Bunions, Hammertoes, and Numbness
Women who regularly wear heels with narrow, pointy toes can develop muscle imbalances, hammertoes and bunions as a result of the pressure. The pressure from the pointy toed-shoes can inflame nerves in the foot enough to cause numbness and tingling.
6. Varicose Veins
High heels can also cause varicose veins. When your legs move forward in heels to float over your toes, your calf muscles contract and stay contracted, instead of contracting and releasing as they usually do in lower-heeled shoes. As a result, your blood can’t use that regular calf muscle contraction as a pump to move up and out of your legs; therefore, blood flow throughout your lower limbs tends to slow down. When blood can’t escape your legs, it pools in veins that swell and rise into what are widely known as varicose veins.
The take home message is this…
High heels are great for date night, but not for everyday use. Over time, the damage done can make your life painful and challenging and no one wants that! If you are currently experiencing any of these conditions, please contact us! We have several different treatment options that may help you.[
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1) Jane Pontious, DPM, chair of the department of podiatric surgery at Temple University
2) Spinal Health Institute, 2014
3) Journal of Orthopedic Research, 2014