The Effects of High Heels

The Effects of High Heels

Many women love the look of high heels. Their beauty and appeal are undeniable. Unfortunately, the look has a high price. Women who frequently wear high heels are at greater risk for problems with their feet, ankles, spine, and muscles.

Foot Problems

High heels can cause a number of problems in the feet. One of them is Haglund’s deformity, commonly called pump bump, which forms on the back of the heel. It’s permanent enlargement of the bone there. High heels put increased pressure on the toes and the ball of the foot. If the pressure on the bones in those areas becomes too great, a hairline fracture could result. Other problems that are linked to this increased pressure include:

  • Ingrown toenails involve the nail growing into the skin. They are painful and can become infected.
  • A bunion is a bony bump that forms at the big toe joint. They can be unsightly and painful.
  • Morton’s Neuroma refers to the thickening of nerve tissue in the ball of the foot. The condition causes pain in the ball of the foot and between toes.

Risk of Foot and Ankle Injury

High heels put women at risk for short-term and long-term ankle problems. Several years of frequent high heel use weakens ankle muscles. Such weakness increases the risk of ankle sprains and injury due to loss of balance.

Pumps are by nature less stable than flat shoes. Therefore, women have a greater chance of falling and injuring themselves while wearing heels. A study of emergency room visits for high heel-related injuries found over 80% of those injuries were related to the foot or ankle.

Poor Posture

The body makes adjustments when a woman is wearing pumps. To maintain balance, the chest and lower back push forward. Eventually, the posture change takes the spine out of its proper alignment, which leads to back pain.

Knee Issues

Since wearing heels puts additional pressure on the knees, it’s not a surprise knee pain is a common complaint among pump wearers. In addition, research has found an association between wearing high heels and an increased risk of knee osteoarthritis.

A Different Gait

Research shows women who regularly wear pumps have a different gait than women who don’t wear them. Heel wearers flex their feet, point their toes, and shorten their steps in heels and when barefoot. The gait strains calf muscles. Eventually, the calf muscles shorten, which can result in muscle pain and fatigue.


If high heels have brought you heel pain, bunions, ankle injury, or other foot problems, consider making Arlington Podiatry Center a part of your journey to foot health.