Can you avoid foot pain from high heels?

Dr. Kelly Geoghan addresses a common concern for many women: Can you avoid foot pain from high heels?

Q: All women in entertainment wear high heels. They dance in them when many women are unable to even walk in them without risking injury. Many businesswomen spend their days in high heels. Are some women more physically suited to wearing high heels than others? Are there any studies that, for example, prolonged dancing in high heels will cause standard injuries? What is the justification for wearing high heels other than cosmetic? Any physical advantages?

A: “As a Baltimore podiatrist, I’m frequently asked questions regarding high heeled shoes and foot pain. I myself like to wear high heels and want to keep my patients wearing their heels. I don’t believe high heels cause posture issues, back problems, bunions, hammertoes, etc but I do believe high heels with their narrow forefoot may be somewhat uncomfortable for certain issues. There are many studies arguing that high heels are bad for the back and cause neck stiffness as well as negative effects on lower extremity musculature, specifically the Achilles tendon. From my experience, patients presenting to my office with Achilles tendonitis are typically overweight or are over-straining their Achilles with certain types of sports and usually wearing shoes which are too flat. Quite the opposite of the bad thoughts behind high heels!

There was a study in the BBC, a broadcasting company in the UK, which argued the 3 myths of high heel risks; back problems, lower back and neck stiffness, and negatively effecting musculature. One study mentioned actually claimed high heels increase the strength of the pelvic muscles and that wearing stilettos increases muscle strength in the legs. I believe in moderation. I also believe in buying shoes which are a little more expensive because they are typically made better. One of my most comfortable pair of shoes is a 3 inch boot made by Chloe!”

Dr. Kelly Geoghan, DPM
Board Certified Cosmetic Podiatrist