The Verdict is In: High Heels Put Your Feet at Risk

In another classic case of science-proving-stuff-that-you-knew-all-along, a medical research team out of South Korea found that in the long-term, wearing high heels can put your feet at risk of injury.

high-heels-and-foot-injuriesWhat woman can resist a stunning pair of heels? Not many of us, apparently: almost 8 in 10 women say they wear them pretty much every day, even though they start hurting the feet after about an hour.

And yet, foot and ankle specialists warn against wearing them too often, or even at all. Heels force the foot into an unnatural position, where the toes squeeze together at the bottom of the incline at the front, and the heel teeters on an increasingly high wedge or stiletto. They offer little to no support through the foot and force the wearer to front-load her weight in order to walk.

The study comes at the heels of startling news. Recently, the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery reported a staggering increase in high-heel related sprains, with around 7,000 in 2002 to a little over 14,000 in 2012. We’re not sure exactly why there’s been such a dramatic increase, but we hope we can provide you with some valuable insights to help you avoid an ankle injury in your future.

What’s the Risk of Wearing Heels?

x-ray+of+a+foot+in+high+heelsHeels, especially with pointy toes, increase your chances of developing a bunion, among other painful and unhealthy structural conditions. But new research shows that long term wear can also increase your chances spraining your ankle.

Think wearing tall heels strengthens your ankle muscles? Think again.

“While wearing high-heeled shoes appeared to strengthen ankle muscles at first, prolonged use eventually caused an imbalance, which is a crucial predictor of ankle injury.”

Foot and ankle specialists have long studied the effect of high heels on wearers’ feet, but because it’s difficult to design a study like this over such an extended period of time, they’ve had difficulty pinning the blame for conditions such as arthritis on specific footwear.

However, this new study shows that wearing 4 inch heels more than three times per week for at least four years weakens some functional ankle muscles while strengthening others, leading to a dangerous imbalance which may result in a sprain.

What Can I Do to Lower My Risk of Injury?

If you must wear heels, do your feet a favor and strength train your ankles. Dr. Yong-Seok Jee advises toe tapping and heel raises, as well as walking on the heels of the feet each day to help balance your ankle muscles. These exercises are so easy, you can even do them while on break at work!

You can support your ankles by choosing shoes with thicker heels, like wedges. Keep your heels shorter, under 1.5 cm, and pick up a pair of supportive insoles at the pharmacy to lower the impact on your joints.

Of course, we also recommend wearing heels less often. Wear them at most three days per week, and alternate with something more comfy.

The gods of fashion are cruel and demanding. When will flats be in style again?

University Foot and Ankle Institute has 9 state-of-the-art locations throughout Southern California. Our physicians have decades of combined experience and are nationally recognized experts in the treatment of foot and ankle conditions. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please call us at (877) 989-9110 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.

University Foot & Ankle Institute Staff

University Foot & Ankle Institute Staff

For almost fifteen years, University Foot and Ankle Institute and their nationally recognized physicians have been providing the most technologically advanced medical care for the foot and ankle with the highest success rates in the country.

Our patients are our number one priority and we consider them, along with our own families and our dedicated staff, to be our greatest assets.

We are driven to get our patients back to their normal activities with the highest level of function, in the least amount of time, using the least invasive treatments possible. From start to finish, we are with you every step of the way.
University Foot & Ankle Institute Staff

2 comments

  1. What height of heel do you recommend for patients with restricted ankle dorsiflexion?

    • University Foot & Ankle Institute Staff

      Greetings,

      Good question! The absolute maximum is one-half of an inch, though we highly recommend that our patients try their darnedest to not go above a quarter of an inch.

      I hope this helps!

      Bob

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

four × four =

  • Angies List
    Exceptional care. Was concerned that I was going to need surgery, but opted for Platelet Rich Plasma injections that now, two months out, have reduced the inflammation significantly. I actually played basketball last ...
    Anonymous
  • Yelp
    Dr. Baravarian took care of my very painful hung nail last year and I have had no problems since then. I since recommended 3 friends to him for different problems/surgeries and they are all so thankful and happy with ...
    Haleh S.
  • CustomerSure
    I am not kept waiting. Communication is easy with all levels of staff. I love the reminders that are done via computer, in that there are a lot loose ends in my day, and the reminders help me stay organized without h...
    Sharon E.
  • Yelp
    Like many, my husband is a classic car buff. I call it classic car nuts! Well one nice day we're going through some car stuff in the garage and BAM!! A steel car rim falls on my foot. Yes, the pain was excruciating! I...
    Irma G.
  • Yelp
    I highly recommend Dr. Baravarian at UFAI.  After months dealing with another doctor and getting no results (and a really painful cortisone shot), I was finally diagnosed correctly and had a successful surgery.  I fou...
    Mari W.
  • Facebook
    Dr. Baravarian got me back running when no other Dr. could. I can't thank him enough! Everyone in the office is so nice, I highly recommend them!
    Christie D.
  • ZocDoc
    Best experience I've had in a long time at a doctors office. The staff were wonderful and efficient!!!!!!
    Albert H.
  • I can't thank you enough for all of those times you saw me at no charge. Many doctors would've turned their back on me the second my insurance ran out, but you didn't and you saw me at no charge.
    Andrew
  • Yelp
    I recently saw Dr. Baravarian for an issue I was having with my tibia.  I was referred to him by my primary physician.  I am SO happy that I met him.  After a few office visits with him, and a very successful surgery,...
    Yesenia B.
  • Google+
    I came to University Foot and Ankle Institute after being misdiagnosed by another doctor. I am a runner and foot pain was making even the shortest walks difficult and painful. Everyone at the office is very nice and D...
    Kay C.
Same day appointments now available!
or call us:
  • University Foot & Ankle, a Preferred Provider to:
  • UCLA Health System - UCLA Medical Group
  • MPTF - Member Industry Health Network
  • Cirque du Soleil
  • ATP - Association of Tennis Professionals
  • And consulting physicians for:
  • C&S - Cedars-Sinai
  • Saint John's Health Center