High Heels vs. Foot Care

This is my daughter taking great delight in her brand new , fashion-forward sandals.   With 4 inch heels.  And a teeny tiny platform.  I have to admit, she looks really good in them.

That’s the dilemma of high heels, don’t you think?  They make our legs look great, kick our outfit up a notch, and they make us feel confident, attractive, even  powerful.  On the other hand, high heels wreck our posture and eventually, our feet.

High heels pitch our posture forward and put most of our weight on the metatarsals, a.k.a. the forefoot or the ball of the foot.  Over time, this can result in metatarsalgia, a constant strain and pain over the forefoot.  Morton’s neuroma is a potential problem between the third and fourth toe that produces a sharp, burning pain over the ball of the foot and numbness in the toes.

As well, shearing friction along the ball of the foot creates calluses.  Pressure from weight concentrated on the forefoot creates corns.  Both conditions can be very painful.

Our hips, lower back and knees have to realign to maintain balance and posture.  This causes lower back, knee and hip pain because of the stress and strain on these areas.  We’ve all seen pictures of pregnant celebrities wearing stilettos……….do I really need to comment?

What happens to the toenails in high heels? Here’s my daughter again to illustrate the point.  Since the entire foot pushes forward in high heels, toenails are jammed against the top of the  narrow toe box.  The pressure on the toenails damages them and can lead to fungal, involuted, and/or ingrown toenails.

Toes crammed into a narrow toe box and pushed forward by the pitch of the shoe can develop hammer toes, claw toes and overlapping toes.   There’s also the potential for forming a bunion, a painful, bony prominence along the outside of the big toe.  The picture (not my daughter!) clearly shows these conditions.  Note the callus on the raised hammer toe.  This is due to the hammer toe rubbing against the top of the toe box.  Yes, it’s painful.

So, what’s a girl to do?  Give up high heels?  That’s unrealistic.  I don’t wear heels at work but, like most women, I have a wardrobe of high-heeled shoes and boots that I enjoy wearing when possible.  Admittedly, none of them have 4-inch heels.  My limit is 3 inches.

I think the key is moderation and common sense.  Leave the 4 -inch stilettos for very special occasions.  Don’t wear them every day – that’s just asking for trouble.

Wear a moderate high heel with a wider toe box on a daily basis.   A 2 -inch heel with a wider base is comfortable and fashionable.  Women who wear heels at work can change into them while sitting at their desk but can put on walking shoes or low-heeled dress shoes when commuting to and from the workplace.  I’ve recommended black, loafer-style nurse shoes to foot care clients who want something more fashionable than a typical walking shoe.  I wear them when I’m visiting McDermott Footcare clients.  Vary your heel heights from day-to-day by alternating low heels with moderate heels.

High heels are part of our culture and for many women, part of our self-image.  We will never give them up but that doesn’t mean we have to fall victim to their harmful effects.  We can continue to enjoy them as long as we take measures to reduce potential problems.

I would like to thank my daughter (and her stilettos) for inspiring this blog and for being such a good sport.  May you have many wonderful years enjoying your heels.

For more tips on proper footwear, read my McDermott Footcare page , above, on “Socks and Shoes.”  Let me know how you feel about high heels.

Copyright Terry McDermott. May not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission of author

6 thoughts on “High Heels vs. Foot Care

  1. Pingback: Bunions (Hallux Valgus) | McDermott Footcare

  2. Pingback: Extreme High Heels | McDermott Footcare

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