The Harmful Truth about High Heels

High heels can make you look long and lean, and can definitely add some glitz to your outfit—but unfortunately, that’s not all they’re doing. According to podiatrists at Jamaica Hospital, high heels, shoes with at least a two inch heel, can also lead to several medical problems.

“Prolonged wearing of high heels can lead to foot pain, ingrown toe nails, bunions, nerve damage, or damage to leg tendons,” explained Dr. Nicholas Camarinos, Chief of Podiatric Medicine at Jamaica Hospital. “Additionally, lower back pain, osteoarthritis of the knee, and overworking an injured leg muscle can also result from wearing high heels over time.”

These problems are likely to develop because the feet are forced into an unnatural position when they are in high heels, therefore placing increased weight on the toes. The incorrect redistribution of weight causes the body to lean forward and puts a strain on the back, knees, and hips. In addition, the change in posture also puts pressure on the nerves which can trigger numbness and pain throughout the entire body.

The conditions that result from wearing high heels don’t develop immediately. They occur from frequent high heel wear. Dr. Camarinos understands that it’s hard to discourage women from entirely eliminating heels from their wardrobe. Instead, he offers the following recommendations:

  • wear a sensible heel height or consider a wedged shoe
  • use insoles to help reduce the impact to your knees
  • wear the correct size shoe
  • wear heels on days you expect limited walking or standing
  • alternate shoes throughout the day or from day to day
  • stretch your calf muscles and feet a few times a day

“Ultimately, our advice isn’t to forbid women from wearing heels. Wearing heels are fine, as long as they aren’t worn all the time and for everything,” explained Dr. Camarinos. “Moderation is key.”

If you frequently wear high heels, are experiencing foot pain, and would like to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist, please contact Jamaica Hospital’s Division of Podiatry at 718-206-6712.

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All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.