Do high heels damage your feet?

If you are walking around downtown State College on a Friday night, you are bound to see about a hundred girls walking, or at least attempting to be walking, in six-inch platform heels. If you asked any of them if their shoe choice was comfortable, you would most likely get a response along the lines of “No. My feet hurt, but at least my outfit looks cute.” In a survey by The American Podiatric Medical Association, researchers found that nearly half of all women wear high heels, and of those women who wear heels, 71% complain that their shoes hurt their feet.



A majority of women do not realize that their nights of wearing pumps, stilettos, and wedges to enhance their appearance have many long-term effects and health risks. According to osteopathic physician Natalie A. Nevins, heels can overwork your leg muscles and create poor posture. Heels can also cause lower back pain, nerve damage such as sciatica, ingrown toenails, osteoarthritis of the knee, and plantar fasciitis.

In a study on the effects of heel height, Lee Yung-Hui and Hong Wei-Hsien of the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology were able to confirm that wearing heels can increase the risks of joint disorders, lower back pain, and plantar fasciitis. Ten healthy females aging 20 to 28 years old volunteered for their study and consented to wear heels heights of varying heights while walking on a treadmill. After conducting 450 trials, their hypothesis was confirmed as the data results proved that increasing heel height does increase pressure, impact force, and perceived discomfort.



In addition, a research report from the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy confirmed that the postural alignment of the head, spine, pelvis, and knees are all impacted by the wear of heels. Fifteen female college students wore heels of different inclinations in this experiment and had their postures measured over the course of six randomized trials.

From the research on the long-term effects of heel wear, it can be understood that receiving a compliment on your black heels is definitely not worth the pain for years to come. However, if you are going to wear heels, WebMD and the American Podiatric Association advise to get the best fitting high heel that has cushion, a thicker heel for balance, a more gradual arch slope, and has an open toe to relieve pressure.

For additional information on the damage heels do to your feet over time, here is a short video summarizing the effects.



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4 thoughts on “Do high heels damage your feet?

  1. Pingback: History of the Heels | Godsloveandlaw's Blog

  2. Raychel Johnson

    I’ve never worn heals probably higher than about an inch. Even for prom and homecoming, I always found the shortest heals possible. They never look comfortable to walk around in and I’ve always wondered how bad they actually were on our feet. I don’t understand why wearing high heels is such an important thing for woman to do when there are stylish looking flats that are a lot more comfortable and better for your feet. I think it comes down to our society and that we view high heels as more socially acceptable when going out or dressing professional. I think it is important though to look at the effects they have on our body. High heels aren’t just affecting our feet, they’re causing pain in our knees and back too. Does the height of the heel play into affect how severe the effects could be? Should their be a limit on how high the heel they should be?

  3. Kendall Nicole Higgins

    This is a really interesting idea. When I joined my sorority they forced us to wear high heels when we went out. This took me awhile to get used too considering I have never been very skilled at it. At my Homecoming Dance sophomore year of high school I got pulled into the Dean’s office because they thought I was wasted. Not drunk, I was just wearing heels. Once I started wearing them in college, and my walking eventually improved; I liked wearing them. I felt prettier and skinnier and never even considered the repercussions. Although I guess when you actually stop to entertain the fact that heels cold hurt us, it makes sense. So why does something that hurts me make me feel beautiful? Who came up with this trend? And we thought Japanese Foot Binding was bad….

  4. kbd5161

    I really like what you had to say in your blog. After looking at your research, I would also agree that wearing high heels would cause severe and permeant damage to your feet. I hate wearing high heels because I find that there is absolutely no benefit to them. The only thing someone could say is that high heels make them feel pretty…but why do you need to feel pretty? To make other people think you look pretty?I always wonder why girls wear such horrible shoes because I don’t even think that the damage is always long term. Short term damage can be seen directly after wearing high heel shoes like blisters, aches and pains, and even potentially tripping and spraining an ankle. I believe that high heel shoes are the result of wanting to look “cute” based on society’s definition. It would be a very interesting study if one could determine exactly WHY girls like to wear high heels, what emotional benefits are there? Why does society pair high heels with dressing up and looking “girly”? What kind of scientific evidence is there to support the idea that high heels are only worn to increase confidence levels of females and when did all of these assumptions come into play? I think it would be interesting to take this topic further, analyzing not only physical damage of high heels long term but also mental/psychological, and emotional damage that comes along with the hidden messages behind high heels.

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