Foot Health

High heels and your feet

No other shoe has been recognized as a symbol of leisure, sexuality, style and sophistication as the high-heeled shoe. High-heeled shoes are shoes with its heel higher than the toes pointing them down into the shoe. History reveals that high heels were worn by upper-class men and women as early as 3500 BC. Wearing high heels is a “right of passage” for young women, and it is very common place. Millions of women wear high heels almost every day and they have varying effect on the feet and body.

The American Podiatric Medical Association surveyed 503 women about their high-heel habits and found:

• 72 percent of women wear high-heeled shoes (39 percent wear heels daily, while 33 percent wear them less often).

• 59 percent report toe pain as a result of wearing uncomfortable shoes; 54 percent report pain in the ball of the foot.

• 58 percent of women purchased new high-heeled shoes in the last year.

• Women who wear high heels daily tend to be younger and are more likely to wear uncomfortable shoes.

• Younger women are more likely to experience blisters and pain in the arches of their feet than older women. Older women are more likely to experience corns, calluses, and bunions.

Why do women wear high heels:

• 82 percent for fashion or style

• 73 percent to complete professional attire

• 54 percent to look sexier and more attractive

• 48 percent to enhance legs

• 39 percent to appear taller

High heel wearers were found to walk less efficiently with or without heels requiring more energy to walk the same distance as people in flats or bare feet because of muscle tiredness. The muscle strain that occurs when walking in high heels may increase the risk of injuries not only in high heels but also when heel wearers switch to wear sneakers or other flat shoes. After wearing high heels for years the foot and leg eventually adapts to the position in high heels making it more difficult to wear flats and to go bare foot.

Wearing high heels change the shape and functioning of the muscles and tendons of the feet and can cause significant foot pain and other problems ranging from bunions, corns, and calluses to hammertoes, ingrown toenails or excruciating pain in the ball of the foot due to loss of fat pad on the bottom of the foot. They also increase the risk of stress fractures and arthritis in the feet. High heels don’t cause bunions but can exacerbate them. High heels are often more comfortable in the 20s and 30s than they are in your 40s, 50s, and beyond. That’s because the feet change shape with age, which makes wearing high heels a lot less comfortable.

Even with the challenges above, many women refuse to give up their high heels. Another survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association showed that 42 percent of women admitted they would wear a shoe they liked even if it hurt their feet. So, if you plan to wear high heels here are some simple advice that can help your feet and entire body:

• Make sure you’re wearing the right size shoe.

• Know your foot type, and wear the style of shoes that’s best for that foot type.

• The thicker the heel, the better.

• Avoid thin soles, opt instead for a platform.

• Take a break. Try not to wear high heels every day, instead wear them maybe once or twice a week. If you do wear them daily, try to remove the heels whenever possible, such as when you’re sitting at your desk.

• Stretch your feet after you take your shoes off.

• Integrate lower heels into your wardrobe by alternating between high heels and flatter shoes.

• If you have bunions or hammer toes consider having them surgically corrected.

• Wear over-the-counter shoe inserts, they can help


• For more information on foot conditions, visit www.apma.org, healthcentral.com, or email us at
foothealth242@gmail.com. To see a podiatrist, visit Bahamas Foot Centre, Rosetta Street, or telephone 325-2996 for an appointment at Bahamas Surgical Associates Centre, Hilltop Medical, or call 394-5820 for an appointment. You can also visit Lucayan Medical Centre in Freeport, Grand Bahama, or telephone 373-7400 for an appointment. 

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