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What Are Some Problems Caused by Wearing High Heels?

Blistering on the feet is a common problem with wearing high heels.
A twisted ankle can result from wearing high heels.
Back pain may be caused by wearing high heels.
High heels.
Wearing high heels can put a person at risk for a broken ankle.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2014
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There are many documented problems caused by wearing high heels. Some of these are minor, only occurring with occasional wear, but others can be more severe and require treatment, especially as women age.

One of the most common problems suffered by people who wear high heels is blistering of the feet. This occurs when the shoe rubs the foot the wrong way, pushes two toes together, or otherwise squeezes the toes. Some blistering can be diminished by making sure shoes fit properly. New high heels should be worn with bandages on the toes and on the heel until the shoe is broken it. People can also try moleskin or other padding to stop new shoe blisters before they occur.

When a shoe that is causing blisters or soreness is ignored, a person can get corns. These are a common and minor problem often caused by wearing high heels. A narrow toe box in a shoe, the feet being pushed forward into the toe box, and friction between the foot and shoe may result in painful corns. The feet may also become thickly callused.

Narrow toe boxes and the foot slanting downward are frequently the reason for problems caused by wearing high heels. When the foot is jammed into the shoe, the wearer can experience not only blisters and corns, but also hammertoes, bunions, and toenail fungus problems. Other problems can affect the structure of the foot, and the rest of the body.

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Keeping the feet in a lifted position for many hours of the day sometimes creates a shortened Achilles tendon. This shortening may make wearing flatter shoes less comfortable or almost impossible. If a person is uncomfortable wearing flatter shoes, she might want to periodically lower of the height of her heels. This can mean she gradually addresses the issue without causing great discomfort to the foot, and she gets a new pair of shoes each month. It can also help to walk barefoot at home.

Other problems caused by wearing high heels include the following:

  • Stress fractures — cracks or breaks in the bones, more common as people age.
  • Twisted/sprained/broken ankles — from turning a foot while wearing a high-heeled shoe.
  • Pump Bump — an enlargement of the back of the heel making it stick out and be red or swollen.
  • Joint pain — especially in the toes and on the balls of the feet, the joint can become chronically irritated, and this is worsened when heels are worn all the time.
  • Neuroma — tissue growth under the toes that results in extreme pain.
  • Back problems — may be related to wearing high heels and having poor postural alignment.

With so many potential problems, it’s a good idea for people to choose to wear heels only occasionally, or to only wear them when they are required, as in an office environment. Still, occasional use, or even daily use, is not likely to cause many problems if people use the shoes only for work or play, and then switch to a more comfortable and supportive shoe for the rest of the day. Problems can also be reduced by purchasing shoes that fit properly and have adequate room in the toe box.

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Discuss this Article

surfNturf
Post 3

Cafe41-I think the worst thing that can happen is when you develop blisters. This is so uncomfortable. This sometimes even happens to me with new sneakers.

I think that if the sneakers are slightly loose, then I will probably develop blisters. It is best to buy sneakers that are your exact size and not a bit larger.

The shoes rub up against the skin; let’s say when you are running which is why the blisters develop.

I learned this the hard way and now I stick with my size shoe rather than a slightly larger pair.

cafe41
Post 2

Latte31-I agree with you. I do not where heels and when I dress up, I try to wear a low shoe that is somewhat dressy.

My feet start to ache and I can not enjoy myself otherwise. I think there are many alternatives to wearing heels.

Many designer shoes carry wedge heels which tend to be thicker and offer more support. Cole Haan has beautiful yet comfortable shoes that you can wear for any occasion.

Their shoes are so comfortable that you don’t even feel like you are wearing shoes. Some of their shoes have Nike Air technology that makes the shoes feel like sneakers. It is amazing.

latte31
Post 1

I know that if I wear shoe heels that are higher than an inch, I will get pain in my heel and arch as well as my ankle area.

I try to use thicker heels that offer more support. Girls wearing stiletto heels for example, will hurt their feet and over time will need to see a podiatrist.

My mother-in-law had to have foot surgery because she wore heels for years and did damage to her feet.

Heels women wear should not be more than two inches and should not be worn everyday. My mother-law’s feet started to grow crooked and to one side which was very uncomfortable.

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