Are high heels bad for your feet?

Are high heels bad for your feet?

The color pink and the popularity of the Barbie movie have taken over pop culture and social media. And now the ‘Barbie feet’ challenge has become viral on TikTok. This is a trend where users recreate the movie scene of Barbie stepping out of her pink high heels, revealing her famed arched feet while standing on tiptoes.

Although, despite the popularity and fashion appeal of high heels, wearing them may not be in the best interest of your foot health.

“Feet are the base of our bodies and high heels add a lot of pressure to the foot,” says Dr. Jesika Weigel, podiatrist at Aurora Health Center in Sheboygan, Wis. “The bones and joints in both the toes and the ball of the foot take on most of that added stress.”

The angle of high heels puts the foot in an unnatural position. This added pressure, especially on a regular basis, can affect the whole body and lead most notably to foot pain. Moreover, it can lead to ankle sprains, muscle strains, stress fractures, and ligament or tendon tears that can have a long-term effect on your health.

“Wearing high heels can cause a pulling of the ligaments and tendons that support the arch,” explains Dr. Weigel. “Along with pain, it can cause plantar fasciitis, or inflammation of heel tissue, and other foot conditions.”

Many high heels often have pointed toes as well. Dr. Weigel shares that this abnormal toe position over time can cause issues like calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails, bunions and hammertoes.

While you may not be able to give up on wearing high heels entirely, there are some steps you can take to mitigate the effects on your feet.

Dr. Weigel offers these tips to decrease foot pain:
  • Save them for special events: Reduce your time in high heels and wear them only for special occasions. If you’re traveling to the occasion, wear a different pair of shoes on the way to the big event and slip your heels on when you get there.
  • Look at different heel sizes: Lower heels place less pressure on the foot and can help give your foot a break.
  • Fit matters: Wearing heels that correctly fit can reduce pain, blisters and other issues. Choosing heels that have a wider toe also give your toes more space.
  • Switch it up: Swap out your shoes from time to time so your feet and toes don’t get conformed to one shoe style.
  • Alternative options: There are other shoe options that are more comfortable and can give you the look you’re going for, like flats or sandals.

Are you trying to find a podiatrist? Look here if you live in Illinois. Look here if you live in Wisconsin.

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One Comment

  1. I have been wearing high heels for almost 40 years, 8 hours a day, five days a week. I am 61 years old and I have never turned an ankle, nor do I have any of the horrible side effects that you have listed. I have over 150 pairs of shoes and I believe it is all in the fit of the shoe. If I wear a pair of shoes that hurt my feet, I throw them away, regardless of the cost. The comfort of the shoe is what truly matters, regardless of the heel height. I have been told that I have gorgeous legs and I am sure that is from the arches of my shoes, that keep the muscles in my legs in great shape. I don’t wear flat shoes as they HURT my feet, I’m sure that is because my arches are high. For me, every day is a Special Occasion so there’s no reason NOT to wear my high heels! Sincerely, High Heel Diva!

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About the Author

Hannah Koerner
Hannah Koerner

Hannah Koerner is a Public Affairs Specialist with Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. In her free time, she enjoys biking, snowshoeing, and cheering on Wisconsin sports teams.