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Do you love high heels and wear them all the time, or do you need to wear them for work? You might have worn them for years without any problems, but have you ever considered what your high heels might be doing to your body?

High heels massively change your posture and how you walk, so they can place stress on your joints. Here’s how your high heels can impact your body and what you can do to avoid problems in the future.


What problems can high heels cause?

Wearing high heels all the time can cause foot issues, particularly bunions. A high heel raises your centre of gravity and throws weight forward, putting additional pressure on the balls of your feet. Heels also squeeze your foot in. Your toe joint extends and puts pressure on the big toe. This happens more with pointed toes than round ones.

High heels also change your posture, leading to excessive stress in your joints that causes musculoskeletal issues elsewhere in your body. For example, they shorten your calf muscles and flick your knee straight. A higher heel overbalances you, especially if you have a thin heel on your shoe, so you must lean back to stay upright. This places stress on your lower back. Think about how you feel when you sit down after taking your heels off. Do you feel you want to slump forward and curve your back to readjust?

Vary the height of your heels

A flat shoe all the time can be just as bad as a very high heel as it means your foot is always in the same position. Variety and change in your footwear are good as they let your feet change position and vary your posture, too.

You don’t have to wear flat shoes to vary your heel height. A lower kitten heel causes less pressure on your joints and feet than a high stiletto. A wedge heel is more stable and distributes your weight evenly as it has a greater surface area. If you need to wear heels for work, as some cabin crew do, wear a flat shoe or lower heel the rest of the time or go barefoot

" Painful feet affect the whole person affecting your mood and how you walk "

Take care of your feet

No matter what type of shoe you wear, looking after your feet is essential. Massage your feet, circle your ankles and point your toes when you take your shoes off at the end of the day. If you’ve been wearing high heels, this can shorten your calf muscles. Calf raises, where you lift and lower on tiptoes can help to stretch out your legs and let your feet settle back onto the floor. Add some calf stretches to lengthen the muscles and tendons.

Painful feet affect the whole person. When your feet hurt it can affect your mood and how you walk.

Different heel heights aren’t the only answer

As we’ve already mentioned, varying your heel height is a good idea as it means you aren't always in the same position. However, there are other ways to change your footwear to reduce the impact of your high heels. A rounded toe is better than a pointed one, giving your toes more room to move. The thickness of your heel also makes a difference. A very thin heel is more likely to overbalance you. Wearing a chunkier heel or a wedge instead of a stiletto gives you more stability.

If you often walk out of your shoes, an ankle strap can help, especially if you scrunch your toes to keep your shoes on. This can happen with flip-flops too, as you use your toes to hold them on.

Get professional help

Foot care is important, and you may want to see a podiatrist for advice on any foot problems. Insoles or silicone pads can help to relieve pressure and get your foot into a better position. Reflexology looks after your feet and helps with other issues too. If you have persistent problems with foot, joint or lower back pain, a biomechanical assessment can help us work out what’s going on and recommend appropriate treatment, whether you need physiotherapy or an appointment with a podiatrist.


Your high heels can change the way you move, which has an impact on your whole body, not just your feet. Varying your footwear and taking good care of your feet can benefit your overall health..


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