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.

Latest posts by The UFAI Education Team (see all)

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.

14,679 Total 1st Party Reviews / 4.9 out of 5 Stars
  • Google
    Dr. Franson was referred to us for my husband ankle. Everything went so smooth and easy. Dealing with the VA seemed that it was...
    Italivi C.
  • GatherUp
    The doctor and staff were amazing in caring for my son. They made him feel comfortable and not afraid.
    Ayden C.
  • Google
    Everyone is so great and accommodating, thank you!
    Lauren H.
  • GatherUp
    Excellent staff and Doctors! Overall experience was great! Thank you so much!
    Anthony D.
  • GatherUp
    Miss seeing you guys !
    Sonny F.
  • GatherUp
    She’s the best
    Lauren H.
  • Yelp
    I visited Dr. Baravarian based on my primary doctors recommendation.   My primary said he is the best in the business for my si...
    Dean H.
  • GatherUp
    Muy buena atención yo quisiera si el Dr tuviera una solución mi hijo tiene enterradas otra ves.las uñas podrían dar algún trata...
    Marco J.
  • GatherUp
    Great office
    David P.
  • GatherUp
    Very good and very well taken cared off. I feel much lighter when I leave .
    Virginia M.
  • GatherUp
    My feet have been bothering me for years. Dr. Jafary operated on both feet, correcting several problems and I'm much happier. I...
    Blaine P.
  • GatherUp
    Great
    Nicolas H.
Same Day Appointments
Now Available!

Or call 877-989-9110

24 hours a day, 7 days a week