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Sunday, January 24, 2021

High Heel Shoes: Pros and Cons

I remember working with a back doctor, an osteopath by training, who told me that high heel shoes got a bad rap!! She said of her back patients, half felt better in some heel and half needed to wear flats. It depended a lot on the curve of their spine. It definitely got me thinking about general rules that were only half right, but practiced as if it was the gospel of truth. 

High Heel Shoes have been loved and maligned for years. A True Love Hate Affair.


From a Podiatrist's perspective, these wonders of the fashion world have many interesting biomechanical aspects. Let me explain the pros and cons of wearing high heel shoes. The possible positive benefits include:

  1. Greater Arch Support over Flats
  2. Better Forward Shift of Body Weight over Flats
  3. A More Relaxed Hamstring, with Less Lower Back Tension
  4. With regular use, Foot, Ankle, Knee, and Hip Strengthening
  5. Heel Lift producing less strain on Achilles Tendon

But, these are weighed down by the possible negative effects including:

  1. Toe box crowding with gradual development of bunions and hammertoes
  2. Ankle and Knee in more unstable positions
  3. Positional Changes in the Low Back which may produce or aggravate symptoms (increased lordosis).
  4. Gradual shortening of the ankle tendon, and hamstrings with possible symptoms.


Four very common recommendations for regular high heel wearDrs include: A) stretch the Achilles 3 times daily, B) stretch the hamstrings once daily, C) vary the heel height several times a day, with the lower or higher heeled shoe having more toe box (yes, switch shoes--possibly a chance to shop!!), and D) use bunion protection with medium gel toe separators and Yoga Toes (or knockoffs). I hope these simple, but effective, tips can allow you to wear high heel shoes for many years to come.

The following was adapted from my book “Secrets to Keep Moving”.

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.