Bad shoes (high heels with pointy toes) negatively effect not only your feet but each joint and muscle above them by throwing them out of a natural alignment. Over time this poor alignment can lead to a lot of wear and tear on these joints and muscles. Imagine yourself talking to yourself as an 80 year old woman and tell her how important those heels were to you . Your point of view will seem very pointless to her as she (you) is dealing with a multitude of injuries and maybe even painful surgeries such as toe and hip replacements because of high heels.
According to Dr. Michael Coughlin, an orthopedic surgeon who reported on all his toe surgeries over the last fifteen years which included bunions, bunionettes, hammer toes and other types, eighty five percent of them were performed on women. This is linked directly to tight fitting and ill fitting shoes. And the main culprit-high heels. It is a sobering statistic to find out that 85% of all foot surgeries are a result of bad shoes.
The foot issues mentioned above are just a few examples of how high heels can damage your feet. A good way to feel how they can hurt the rest of your joints is to stand with bare feet on the balls of your feet (as though wearing high heels). Notice the great pressure created at the ball of the foot-the beginning of the problems. Feel how the ankle is weakened because of its lack of mobility and zero contact with the floor. The muscles of the calf are shortened affecting the balance of your knees, hips, spine, shoulders and neck. Now, try walking!
High heels also throw off the center of gravity (known as the plum line). So, instead of your body being stacked above the center of your feet it is pitched forward. This creates tension and strain in your muscles and joints and can create spinal misalignment such as lordosis (sway back) and kyphosis (hunch-back). They also exacerbate other conditions like herniated disks and sciatica.
I worked at Haven Spa in SoHo for five years. We had many clients from the fashion industry and I understood their plight because that was their business to wear the latest fashion. If you absolutely have to wear heels at least try to balance some time off work to wear comfortable shoes for your bodies sake. A podiatrist once told me that it was really ok to wear a low heel as long as the toe-box was wide enough to give adequate space for them. This way your toes will not be smashed and the rest of your joints which are stacked on top will be less affected.
*source: The foot and Ankle Sourcebook by M. David Tremaine M.D. and Elias M. Awad PH.D.