These Heels Hurt My Feet!

Every guy has heard his other half utter these infamous words, and they have inevitably come out of every heel-wearer’s mouth….

Okay, so how are high heels affecting you besides keeping your fashion game on-point and making you taller? P-O-S-T-U-R-E. Posture. High heels have a major effect on your posture, and that’s what we’re going to review with this series of blog posts!

Let’s start with the direct point of contact – the Foot.

High heels come in all shapes and sizes, which is important, but let’s think of the stereotypical pointy-toe high-heel in this case (I’m sure that’s exactly the proper nomenclature for you fashionistas out there 🙂 ).

The most important aspect here is the toes. This is purely positional due to the shoe design. Let’s look at Picture #2 on the right. Our feet are naturally shaped to be wider near the toes than the heel. A “pointy-toe heel” is not. What happens when our feet are jammed into this type of shoe? Toes have to adduct or smash together. Take a look at the picture with my fancy superimposed “pointy-toe heel.” I think this is a male foot (with some sweet tan lines mind you), but regardless, the principle is the same – There are 2 toes outside of the toe box! And there’s only one way to make them fit…. Notice, this smashing of the toes necessary for proper high heel wearing is similar to the toe position when a bunion is present (hallux valgus – Picture #3)! This is not a healthy stress to place on the joints of our toes and can lead to chronic pain!

Take a look at the resting position of the foot in Picture 4. This is a similar position required to be in a high heeled shoe. Compare this to a flat foot position in tennis shoes – a little different, huh? In a high heel, the toes are in full extension and all of the pressure is at the MTP joint, or the ball of the foot near the base of the toes. This could end up resulting in pain at the bottom of the foot in that region (called metatarsalgia) because that area is not made to carry all of your weight around all day! Also, you’ll notice the gal in Picture #4 has very pronounced, high arches. Extending the toes, as in the picture, causes the plantar fascia to become taught, raising our arch (the Windlass Mechanism). Why is this important? Constant tugging at the plantar fascia is a recipe for plantar fasciitis  and more pain.

Metatarsalgia, Plantar Fasciitis, and Bunions – Oh My!! And this is only the foot we are talking about.

Next up we will explore the rest of the leg and the impact of high heels! Leave a comment here or on our Facebook page post with any questions if you’re an avid high heel wearer or you have any of these problems!

Samuel Munie, PT, DPT is a physical therapist in Breese, IL that can help you restore optimal movement and function to improve your quality of life by working with you to develop an individualized treatment program. Sam specializes in the prevention and rehabilitation of acute injuries, chronic pain, and balance or mobility deficits. Sam treats clients of all ages and activity levels – ranging from athletes, weekend warriors, and even the sedentary desk jockey. If you have pain or aren’t able to do the activities you love, call to find out if Sam can help you!