The Real Impact of High Heels

High heels are an almost universally accepted sign of femininity and sex appeal. There's something incredibly empowering about hearing the click of your heels as you strut down the street. But no one ever claimed they were comfortable, they're almost definitely the origin of the saying “beauty hurts”. The pain of heels is something we just accept, but should we be taking a closer look at the lasting impact of our pursuit of fashion?

 

There are very real, often unacknowledged, consequences of wearing high heels. Tight and narrow heels can cause ingrown toenails and bunions. High heels can actually lead to swelling on the bottom of the feet that can make walking and standing incredibly painful.

But there are more serious, long lasting effects. The lack of support they offer can cause more wear and tear on the joints in your ankles, knees, and hips. High heels change the way we stand and force posture forward. The uneven weight distribution can cause chronic knee and back pain or numbness. As heels get higher, the pressure on the ball of the foot naturally increases and exacerbates these issues.  

Over time they can actually reshape the muscles and tendons of your legs. Calf muscles may shorten, and tendons may thicken. This makes it difficult and painful to walk flat-footed, which requires correction through physical therapy or orthopedic care.

That's a lot of scary information about something that seems almost compulsory in formal situations, but there are some practical ways to avoid the pain. Don’t wear heels every day or for long periods of time. And low heels are cute too, a limit of two inches is ideal. A platform sole will decrease the angle between the heel and the ball of the foot, so your weight is more evenly distributed across the entire foot. Look for thicker heels to spread your weight more evenly. Avoid pointed toes and stretch your leg muscles before and after wearing heels.

 

This doesn't necessarily mean we have to burn all of our red bottoms, but there's value in moderation. Overall, it's important to keep everything in perspective.

Beauty shouldn't hurt. If it does, it's not worth it.