What Type of High Heels Are Bad for Your Health?

October 11, 2014

Yes, it’s true that they are very pretty. However, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t bad for you. “Being fashionable and looking good is painful,” most women will say. But it isn’t necessary to suffer from bad shoes. In this article, we will help explain what shoe is best according to a woman’s activities and what amount of time you should wear high heels.

The Worst Shoes for Women

A recent study by the Orthopaedic Associates of New York states that the worst shoes that women can wear have a high and skinny heel (known as “needle” heels in some places). This is because your body’s weight rests on the ball of your foot, where your toes are, which puts a lot of pressure on one point. Also, your knees and hips roll forward and affect the body’s balance in general, which weakens your leg and back health. Wearing shoes like this harms your ankles to your lower back area.

In the case of platform shoes, which are so popular nowadays, there are also problems. Many people will say that the weight is “split up” along the whole foot, but that’s not true. Just like the skinny and long heel, pressure is put on your toes, although having a thick heel protects your heel a little bit more. Platform shoes produce calluses, bunions, and ankle and back pains.


Ankle boots can be a little bit safer, but you can’t rely on them either. The study showed that 25% of your body’s weight that falls on your toes increases with the size of the heel. This means that the bigger the heel, the greater the damage will be.

Flats (or ballet slippers) are also very popular because they can be worn for work as well as for going out with friends. But watch out because although they are very flat and have no heel, they don’t give your foot good arch support, which makes it work double time. This causes inflammation, back or heel pain, or even fractures.

Lastly, tennis shoes that are used for working out or walking, have the best support for your feet. However, wearing them frequently can cause fungus especially if you don’t wear cotton socks.


More Information on Wearing Heels

Statistics show that women suffer from four times more foot problems than men. This is due to the shoes they wear, especially heels. When you put your bare feet on the ground, the front part (ball) supports 43% of your weight for every step and the heel absorbs the other 57%.

If your heel is 4cm high, this percentage changes places. When the heel is 6cm, the most pressure is on your toes at 75%. When the heel is over 10cm, 90% of the weight rests on the ball.


This makes your weight imbalanced and causes you to change your posture in general. The first joint that suffers from it is your ankles. This is why women are more likely to suffer from sprains if they wear heels. Since the lower part of the leg has to make up for the weight that was moved forward, it contracts and shortens, which causes you discomfort and muscle contractions in your calves.

Following the leg, the knee is another joint that is overworked when you wear heels because the tension increases from the sole of the foot and up. You flex more than when you are in bare feet, which imbalances your quadriceps and the anterior leg muscle.

The list goes on: it maladjusts the hip joint, increasing lower back and back pain. Your whole posture is changed in reality. Bunions will appear on your feet, and calluses and deformations on your toes, as well as swelling and pain after a full day with high heels on.


How to Prevent Problems Related to Wearing Heels

Now you know what the risks are if you wear high heeled shoes. However, if you still like them, wear them for work, or to look prettier (they make your legs look more stylish, they are perfect for parties, they make you look taller, etc.). Many people may think that the choice is to stop wearing them. But the truth is that it’s not good to not wear any kind of heel either, as we explained before.

The best way is to wear heels that are about 2cm high, so that the support of your ball and heel bone are more balanced with 50% for each part. They shouldn’t be higher than 3cm. If you like tall heels, go for platform shoes that don’t hurt your foot as much.


If you wear heels once in a while to go out or for a special occasion, there is no problem. What you shouldn’t do is wear them everyday for hours on end, like at work, for example. If you can’t wear anything else at work, a good idea is to have another pair in your bag. When you arrive and leave, wear a more comfortable pair and when you get there, change into your heels. If you are behind a desk, you can also take them off and put them on when your boss comes or when you go to a meeting.

It is also good to know that the more narrow the shoe, the less harm it will cause you. In regards to the material, the best kind is leather (synthetic, if possible). Your toes will be immobilized and won’t move “freely”.

Images courtesy of Mervi Eskelinen, Jocely Saurini, Larry Johnson, Heather Dow, Maria Morri Thomas R Koll, Alison Here

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