By: Fiona Shepes
Podiatrist at The Fresh Foot Centre

As a podiatrist that works in the Inner South East, i’m truly baffled to see so many women wear high heeled footwear where the pain is vividly expressed on their faces. Why is it that women put themselves through the pain of putting their broad, long, wide feet and cram it into a narrow, skinny high heel which gives no support and comfort? It’s like voluntarily going through the birthing process on a daily basis. Cramming something so big into a little space never ends well.

So why do we do it? And more importantly why do we do it on a daily basis? Do we enjoy punishing ourselves? Is it a power struggle to make ourselves feel stronger and taller than our male counterparts? Or is it just vanity and stupidity that fuels our obsession to wear high heeled footwear?

 

girl holding shoes in hands

When you walk, High heels cause excess weight pressure to be placed on the metatarsals  (balls) of the feet which aggravates all the nerves, tendons, bones and soft tissue in the area. As a result, it is common to get burning and numbness sensation in and around the metatarsals.

The other great thing I find when people wear high heels is it can cause osteoarthritis prematurely in the joints. Constant high heel footwear can increase the development of many painful foot conditions such as Plantar fasciitis, Mortons Neuroma, Bunion deformity, bursitis, and inflammation of the joints and tendons.
Depending on the height of the heel or how narrow the heel is, your body is working extra hard to keep you balanced when walking in your high heels. Because your body is working harder to put one foot over the other in high heels,it is also increasing your chances of spraining or rolling your ankles. According to the American Osteopathy Association, they report one in 10 women wear heels, and most of them develop severe pain and swelling in the forefoot, rearfoot, ankle, knees, hips and spine.

little girl trying on mummys shoes

It’s not all doom and gloom. Next time you go out looking for a shoe, you need to look out for 6 things to help you walk pain free.

  • Look for a shoe with a wide and deep toe box.
  • Purchase a shoe that has a maximum heel height of 2.5cm (1 inch).
  • Purchasing a shoe with either lace up, velcro strapping or a zip on the side so your foot is supported in the shoe. (Therefore less chance of falling and rolling your ankles.)
  • Make sure there is some cushioning or padding in the shoes which helps with shock absorption.
  • Try your shoes before you buy. (Dont just order your shoe size online) NO two feet are the same.
  • Leather shoes are the best as they are breathable and will stretch.

The next time you wear your high heeled footwear, be smart about it. Don’t think high heels make you a stronger, more powerful woman. And if you get a raise from your employer, guess what, you will probably end up spending the extra money you receive going to see an Osteotherapist, physiotherapsit, podiatrist and GP to get help for all the damage you have done to yourself.

This article doesn’t suggest you can’t wear high heels, it just means consider high heel footwear as a sometime shoe, not a daily shoe. Limit your walking in a high heel shoe and get into a comfort shoe and i guarantee you will feel healthier and have less aches and pains.

The Fresh Foot Centre is located in the South Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne, specialising in your foot and ankle pain. We service Narre Warren, Berwick, Hallam, Beaconsfield, Hampton Park, Cranbourne, Dandenong as well as many other suburbs. Feel free to comment or give us a call to make a podiatry appointment.