highheelsBad 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.

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6 Thoughts on “Why High Heels Cause Foot and Joint Pain

  1. Pingback: how high heels damage alignment Sensible living | Joint Pain Relief

  2. Pingback: Dealing With The Pain of Sciatica | Sensible living

  3. Oh Yes, How pretty the shoes were. I always thought my size
    was the perfect 7.5. After awhile my left foot was hurting,
    and never dreaming that I would have hammer toe and bunion
    problems. My doctor said this to me, “Remember those pretty high heels you wore to the office? Well now it is pay back time.”
    That’s what he told me . I am always hurting. Girls listen, please remember the consequences., what they say is true . You will pay back later in your years.

  4. StevieN235 on December 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm said:

    I have had chronic back pain due to a herniated disk and degenerative disk disease for about 15 years now. I also have had shoulder pain for about two years due to an injury. My pain is always there, most of the time ignorable, some of the time intolerable. During the intolerable times, I take narcotics: pain killers and muscle relaxers. Not a lot mind you, but the amount I need has slowly increased over the years. Physical therapy, exercise, stretching, a ridiculous number of hot baths, and deep tissue massage also help to alleviate the worst symptoms, but the pain always returns.

    My father, who is in his 70’s and is althetic like he is still in his 30’s, recommend the Dr. Max Power Joint Support with Vitamin B12 – its glucosamine and MSM supplement. I was shocked. In two weeks I was literally pain free, for the first time in years. My back feels better than it has since 1995. The pain is non-existent, and what little there occasionally is resolves with a little stretching. My shoulder, while still clearly injured, has significantly less pain and a vastly increased range of motion. I no longer scream when I pick up the milk jug or my three year old daughter. Overall, I feel better and am in a much sunnier mood.

  5. Great post! I really enjoyed it.

  6. So glad-thank you!

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