Wearing high heels, though aesthetically pleasing and fashionable, can lead to various foot conditions that may cause discomfort and affect the overall health of your feet. Not only can high heels lead to foot pain, but they can also cause various problems with your feet. An experienced Texas podiatrist can provide treatments to alleviate foot pain and recommend shoes that won’t hurt your feet. The pain of wearing high heels

Dangers of Wearing High Heels

Wearing high heels can be dangerous to your overall foot health. One of the most common problems caused by this type of shoe is foot pain. The heel elevation causes an unnatural shift in body weight, putting excessive pressure on the front of the foot. This increased pressure can lead to soreness, aching, and discomfort, making it challenging to walk or stand for extended periods.

Other Ways High Heels Affect Your Feet

  • Heel pain. High heels also put significant pressure on the heels, leading to heel pain. The impact of each step is concentrated on a small area of the heel, which can result in inflammation and pain in the heel bone and surrounding tissues.
  • Bunions. Wearing high heels often forces the toes into a cramped and unnatural position, especially with pointy-toed shoes. This can lead to the development of bunions, which are painful bony bumps that form on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe.
  • Hammer toes. The unnatural positioning of the toes in high heels can also contribute to the development of hammer toes. This condition causes the toes to bend at the middle joint, resembling a hammer shape.
  • Corns and calluses. The pressure and friction caused by high heels can lead to the formation of corns and calluses on the feet. These thickened, hardened areas of skin can be painful and uncomfortable.
  • Plantar fasciitis. The elevation and lack of proper support in high heels can strain the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot and connects your heel bone to the toes. This can lead to plantar fasciitis, a condition characterized by heel pain and inflammation in the arch of the foot.
  • Ankle sprains. High heels can compromise the stability of the ankle, making it more susceptible to injuries such as sprains and twists. The narrow base of high heels reduces the ability of the foot to support the body weight and maintain balance.
  • Muscle fatigue. Constantly wearing high heels can cause the muscles in the calves, ankles, and feet to become tired and tense. This can lead to discomfort and an increased risk of muscle strains.
  • Ingrown toenails. Tight-fitting high heels can put pressure on the toes, increasing the likelihood of ingrown toenails.

How a Podiatrist Can Treat Foot Pain

When foot pain and discomfort persist, consulting a podiatrist is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment. A podiatrist will examine your feet, review your medical history, and discuss your symptoms to accurately diagnose any foot conditions and assess the extent of damage caused by high heels.

Treatment will depend on the diagnosis and specific foot condition. It may involve a combination of therapies, exercises, stretches, and lifestyle changes to alleviate pain and promote healing. 

Footwear Recommendations

If you like wearing high heels, there is alternative footwear that is still stylish but safer for your feet. Alternating between different types of footwear and wearing high heels in moderation can help reduce the impact on your feet. Additionally, choosing shoes with proper support and fit can significantly contribute to maintaining foot health and preventing potential foot conditions caused by high heels.

Consider Other Footwear Choices

  • Lower heel heights. Lower heel heights can help reduce the pressure on the feet and provide better stability. Consider choosing shoes with two-inch or lower heels, allowing for a more natural weight distribution.
  • Wedges and platforms. Wedges and platform shoes provide better support and stability than traditional high heels. They distribute the body weight more evenly across the foot, reducing strain on specific pressure points.
  • Arch support. Shoes with adequate arch support help maintain the foot's natural alignment, reducing the risk of developing foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis. Look for shoes with cushioned insoles and arch support to promote foot health.
  • Roomy toe box. Avoid shoes with narrow or pointy toe boxes that squeeze the toes together. Choose shoes with a roomy toe box that allows the toes to spread naturally, preventing the development of bunions and other toe-related issues.

Prevention Tips

If you plan to wear high heels for a special event or evening out, there are several tips to consider that can reduce your risk for pain, discomfort, and possible injuries. The primary consideration is to choose the correct shoe size. Make sure your high heels fit properly, and avoid shoes that are too tight or too loose, as they can cause blisters and discomfort.

Ways to Avoid Painful Foot Conditions Due to High Heels

  • Invest in quality shoes. High-quality shoes with good arch support and cushioning can help reduce strain on your feet and improve overall comfort.
  • Gradually increase heel height. If you are not used to wearing high heels, start with lower heels and gradually increase the height over time to allow your feet to adjust.
  • Limit wearing high heels. Reserve high heels for special occasions or limited periods. Limit walking long distances or standing for extended periods while wearing high heels, which can lead to foot and leg fatigue.
  • Stretch before and after wearing. Stretch your feet, ankles, and calf muscles before wearing heels and after taking them off to help reduce stiffness and prevent muscle imbalances.
  • Use insoles or orthotics. Insoles or custom orthotics can provide extra support and cushioning, reducing the impact on your feet.
  • Pay attention to your posture. Maintain good posture while wearing heels to reduce strain on your back and knees. 
  • Be cautious on uneven surfaces. High heels can be challenging to walk in, especially on uneven surfaces. Exercise caution to avoid tripping or injuring yourself.
  • Maintain proper foot hygiene. Keep your feet clean and dry to prevent potential issues like blisters or fungal infections.
  • See a podiatrist at the first sign of a problem. If you experience pain and discomfort in your feet after wearing high heels or notice worsening symptoms, consult a podiatrist as soon as possible. Problems are easier to treat in their earliest stages, and working with a podiatrist can help avoid potentially serious complications. 
Craig Thomajan
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Austin Podiatrist