Everyone has heard the phrase heels are bad for your feet, ankles, knees, etc. That statement is usually followed by the response of “But they make my calves and butt look good”. The reason they look good is because those muscle groups are forced to contract which makes them look more toned.
The real question is; is wearing heels more important than having your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and or lower back be pain free? I would hope that for most people that answer should be no, but that is not always the case.
There are 3 major problems with heels. The 1st of them is the elevation or height of the heel. When we compare wearing a normal athletic shoe to a heel there are some big pressure differences. The higher the heel means more pressure in the toes and the ball of the foot. This becomes a problem because our feet were designed to distribute weight evenly and not just carry in it one part.
The 2nd problem is the heel itself. If you were to take off your shoes and look at your heel, you would see that for most people it is about the size of a 2 inch circle. With a traditional stiletto heel the actual area of the heel is maybe a ¼ inch square. That means the overall pressure under the heel when walking is 8 TIMES GREATER because of the smaller surface area. On top of the increased pressure, a heel is less stable which makes you more prone to rolling your ankle or slipping and falling.
Finally the 3rd issue is the space for your toes or lack thereof. This area of the shoe is normally called the toe box. The smaller the toe box the more narrow it becomes which in turn jams your toes together. Of course this creates added pressure but the pressure isn’t the big issue. Normally when we walk barefoot our toes spread out all grip the floor and then we push off with the big toe. If our toes are jammed or squished together they can’t spread out which lowers our proprioception (aka balance system) and changes how we walk. These in combination can be one of the leading causes of foot pain, bunions, and plantar fasciitis.
If you are going to continue to wear heels the best recommendation would be to have a lower heel and an open toe.