While high heels are fashionable, they can damage the feet and other parts of the body. For starters, they force the wearer to stand on tiptoe, which forces their entire body to adjust to the change in balance. It also increases the pressure on the front part of the foot. The higher the heels and the longer the woman wears them, the more severe the effects will be. Stilettos are particularly bad for the tiny heels provide little stability or support and thus increase the risk of falling or twisting an ankle.
Damage to back
The back has a natural C-curve that reduces the stress on the pelvis and spine by acting as a shock-absorber. High heels alter that natural curve by flattening the lower back and forcing mid-back to curve more. A woman wearing heels will have to lean forward to relieve some of the pressure on her back. The resultant strain on her back muscles could lead to chronic pain.
Damage to hips
High heels force the hips to compensate for the excess pressure on the feet by moving forward. Since the hips control one’s posture, if they’re out of alignment so is the entire back. That can cause back pain extending all the way up to the neck. Since the hips are heavily involved in walking and actions involving the legs, misaligned hips can cause pain in the inner thighs, groin, and butt.
Damage to feet
High heels cause the ligaments and tendons supporting the arch to become abnormally tight, which causes a painful condition called plantar fasciitis. They can also cause a bony enlargement of the heel called Haglund’s deformity by affecting the alignment of the Achilles tendon. The increased pressure on the forefoot can cause deformities like bunions as well as pain. High heels often have extremely narrow toe boxes that jam the toes together and cause problems like hammertoe. Even if the shoe has a relatively wide toe box, the pressure on the skin and toes may cause blisters, calluses, or corns.
Damage to knees
Women are twice as likely to develop osteoarthritis or “wear-and-tear” arthritis as are men, and high heels are one reason why. They increase the distance between the knees and the ground which increases compression and torque in the knee. A woman wearing high heels also has to keep her knees flexed to maintain her balance, and that, in turn, forces her tibia or shin bone to stay turned inward. That causes the inner knee to become compressed – and many women develop osteoarthritis in their inner knee.
Ideally, women should wear high heels only on special occasions. If they have to wear them at work, though, they should occasionally take them off to relax and stretch. The American Osteopathic Association recommends stretching the calves and plantar fascia to ease back pain and loosen tight hamstrings.
Women should also choose high heels that cause the least harm. For example, they should avoid shoes that are loose as those can cause blisters. They should also consider options like platform shoes that reduce the angle between the heel and forefoot to ensure a more even and natural distribution of weight.