How High Heels Can Cause Foot Problems

One of the chief causes of foot problems in women is wearing high-heeled shoes. When women consistently wear narrow, pointed, and dramatically angled shoes that cause unnecessary pressure on their toes, they become susceptible to painful foot conditions.

Various Foot Conditions Associated with High Heels:

  • Corns and/or Calluses: Hard, thick layers of skin form in the friction areas between the feet and shoes. Wearing high heels that constantly slide the feet forward into narrow toe boxes can create uncomfortable pressure points on the feet. If you already are dealing with corns or calluses, visit our selection of related foot health products.
  • Toenail Issues: Nail fungus and/or ingrown toenails can develop from constant pressure on the nail beds or toes as they are forced downward against the front of the shoe.
  • Hammer Toe: High-heeled shoes often have toe boxes that taper toward the toes. As a result, these can cause the toes to bend unnaturally and force the toes against the top of the toe box. This situation can cause the toes to curl at the middle joint, and the toe muscles eventually become unable to straighten.
  • Bunions: Pointed, high-heeled shoes can force the toes to compress such that a bony bump can develop on the joint at the base of the big toe. The equivalent condition on the little toe is called a Bunionette. Check out our offering of bunion-friendly shoes and products to help alleviate discomfort that this condition may cause.
  • Tight heel cords: Frequent wearers of high heels risk shortening and/or tightening their Achilles tendons (also known as the heel cord). Wearing high heels all the time keeps the bones of the heel from coming into regular contact with the ground. In turn, this prevents the Achilles tendons from stretching completely. Eventually, the Achilles tendons contract so much that wearing flat shoes becomes very uncomfortable.
  • Haglund's Deformity (Pump Bump): This bony deformity, an enlargement that sometimes develops on the back of the heel, can created or aggravated by the straps and/or rigid backs of high-heeled footwear. Pain, redness, and/or inflammation of the surrounding soft tissue of the heel results. While heredity is thought to play a role in the development of Haglund's deformity, wearing high-heeled shoes can worsen this condition.
  • Morton's and/or Plantar Neuromas: Neuromas are nerve tumors that can develop anywhere, but are frequently found between the third and fourth toes (which is then called a Morton's Neuroma). These growths cause burning, sharp pain in the ball of the feet as well as numbness and/or stinging in the toes. Any footwear that puts pressure on the forefoot can create or exacerbate this condition.
  • Metatarsalgia (Joint Pain in the Balls of the Feet): High heels cause a woman to shift excess weight to the balls of her feet as opposed to evenly distributing her weight over the entire areas of the feet. This leads to pain, discomfort, strain and increased pressure in the forefeet.
  • Stress Fractures: Tiny cracks in one of the five metatarsal bones of the foot can be caused by the excess pressure high heeled shoes exert on the forefoot.
  • Ankle Injuries: High heeled shoe wearers are at an increased risk of ankle injuries due to potential falls from losing their balance.

So what are some of the stylish alternatives? Try to find footwear that features heels that are thick and low to the ground, as well as a wide box toe. Additionally, if you like the height of heels, buy wedges that provide the desired lift without the unhealthily dramatic angles that put unnecessary weight on your toes. Brands like Dansko and Clarks offer a wide array of trendy flats, boots and heels that encompass these characteristics, helping you to sidestep these common injuries.

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