Extended wear of high heels can cause foot damage

Published: 2011-08-16 11:47:54
Author: Sharon Biggs Waller

 High heels make you look great, improve your figure, and are the final touch to a fashionable look, but if high heels do wonders for your appearance, they don't do a lot for foot health.

Dr. Michael Nirenberg, a podiatrist at Friendly Foot Care in Crown Point, says he doesn't discourage women from wearing high heels occasionally. "Once or twice a week is going to do minimal damage to your feet," he says. "If you wear heels over a long period of time, then you can do permanent damage to your feet and your body."

Dr. Nirenberg says that although high heels make you look taller in the short term, in the long term they cause you to become shorter as your body adapts to the shoes. He says your back will begin to curve and your buttocks expand out and you end up the same height you were without heels.

High heels also put all your weight on the front of the foot, which compresses the toes and the ball of the foot, leading to injuries such as the unlovely bunions, hammertoes or painful pinched nerves called neuromas.

And don't think you can wear high heels until you begin having a problem. Studies have shown that if you wear high heels and stop wearing them, later on you're more likely to have foot problems.

"Constant wearing of high heels change the feet permanently," Dr. Nirenberg says. "They also change the way all your joints in your body are aligned. Heels, even the small ones, cause you to fall forward, and the body compensates by contorting the back and changing the positioning of the shoulders and neck, making you prone to herniated discs. You also use the joints and muscles incorrectly, because you're not walking in a natural way. The Achilles tendon also shortens and you'll have pain whenever you wear a flat shoe. You can lengthen that tendon over time, but it depends upon how long you've been wearing high heels. A podiatrist can help."