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How High Heels are Affecting More Than Just Your Feet

March 2, 2017
Published in: Joint, Women

A woman sitting in a car with her legs hanging out the window

Those stylish 4-inch heels you handpicked to set off your dress at your next social gathering will have a lasting impact long after people have forgotten your stunning outfit. You already know how your feet ache after a long night in high heels, but you may not be aware of the other ways in which you're impacting your health.

Why High Heels Cause So Many Problems

When you wear high heels you are repositioning your body's posture to mimic what it's like to walk down a steep hill, causing several key changes:

  • Down force is placed on the balls of your feet instead of being evenly distributed across the entire foot
  • Frequent usage of high heels can cause the fibers in your Achilles tendon and calf muscles to shorten
  • Additional pressure is placed on your knees
  • Your chest and hips are pushed forward causing your spine to be out of alignment


The height of your heels has a direct affect on how your weight is distributed across your foot.

  • 1" Heel – Pressure to the front ball of the foot increased by 22%
  • 2" Heel – Pressure to the front ball of the foot increased by 57%
  • 3" Heel – Pressure to the front ball of the foot increased by 76%

Wearing high heels can ultimately lead to hammertoe, bunions, ingrown toenails, and even joint disease in your feet.

Achilles Tendon and Calves

As your Achilles tendon grows more stiff it becomes more difficult to straighten your legs.

Over time it can even make it difficult for you to be able to walk when not wearing high heels as it shortens the fibers in your calf muscles and Achilles tendons. As a result, when walking around flat-footed it may cause pain as these fibers are stretched further than they are used to.


As your weight is shifted to the front balls of your feet, your knees have to shift forward as well to provide balance. As a result, additional pressure is placed on the knees due to this unnatural positioning.

This added pressure and unnatural alignment can lead to arthritis in your knees which many require corrective surgery over time.


Your hips also have to shift forward to provide balance for your body as the bulk of your weight is moved to the front of your foot. This added pressure often leads to pain in the outer hips and pushes your spine out of alignment.


As your hips and knees are pushed forward to compensate for the weight shifting to the front of the feet, your lower back is forced to hyperextend backwards to keep your body balanced.

While this may give your body an appealing look, what it does to your body and back isn't nearly as pretty. It leads to back pain, back spasms, and over time it can lead to arthritis as well.

Is it Okay to Wear Heels Occasionally?

While wearing high heels on a semi-regular basis will not cause as many problems as wearing them daily, it is not without risk. Even very occasional use of high heels can lead to foot problems like hammertoes, bunions, and ingrown toenails.

If you're suffering from joint or back pain due to wearing high heels or for any other reason, the Joint Center at Augusta Health can help. Give us a call at (540) 245-7761 to speak with one of our highly trained professionals who can get you on the road to recovery.