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High heels have been worn by many women for years to look taller and nowadays they are commonly worn as part of a fashion statement. Women wearing high heels appear taller with longer legs; however, this causes postural changes which bring a host of health issues when high heels are worn too frequently.

Effects of High Heels

When wearing high heels, your body starts to compensate for the new posture caused due to the bending of the hips and spine. As a result, muscle fatigue and strain occur in the calf, hips, ankles, and other parts of the body resulting in problems such as:

  • Foot pain: Continuous use of high heels may cause increased pressure on the balls of your feet resulting in severe foot pain while walking or standing for extended periods of time.
  • Unnatural posture: To compensate for the posture while wearing high heels, your lower body leans forward and the upper body leans backward which creates a stiff and unnatural posture rather than a relaxed one.
  • Difficulty walking: Continuous use of high heels will cause walking issues as it is difficult for the foot muscles to work efficiently. This increases the chance of losing your balance and falling while walking.
  • Back pain: The normal curvature of your spine acts as a shock absorbent that reduces the pressure on your lower back. When you wear high heels, your spine flattens a bit exerting pressure on your lower back that can result in back pain.
  • Hip pain: Wearing high-heel shoes causes contraction of the hip flexors, which in the long term may make the hip out of alignment causing lower back pain and hip pain.
  • Irregular shape of the foot: The pressure exerted on the foot may result in the formation of bunions and neuromas on the foot, and irregular shape of your feet.
  • Limits the movement of ankles: Due to excessive height of the heels, the calf muscles are in a flexed position and tend to shorten leading to loss of strength and range of motion in the ankles.
  • Problems with your toes: The pressure exerted on the toes when wearing high heel shoes can cause corns, blisters and callus formation in the toes.

Steps to Avoid Negative Health Effects due to High Heels

The following steps should be taken into consideration while wearing high heels:

  • Avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time.
  • Purchase your footwear in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest size.
  • Avoid pointed-toe footwear.
  • Choose leather insoles to prevent your foot from slipping.
  • Always stretch your leg muscles before and after wearing high-heel shoes.
  • Do not buy shoes with a heel size more than 2 inches long.
  • The Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • The American Osteopathic Academy of Orthopedics (AOAO)
  • The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society┬«
    Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation
  • American Academy of Osteopathy
  • American Osteopathic Association