Why High Heels And Healthy Feet Don’t Mix

I love my high heels. The minute I put them on I feel confident, stylish and much taller. But after a day of walking around on three-inch sticks that squash my toes, my feet are screaming for relief. Why is it so hard to find a pair of high heels that keep our feet happy? Is it really worth the pain to wear that stylish pump that completes our outfit perfectly? Of course it is, otherwise we’d all wear comfortable flats and not care that we look shorter or fail at giving the illusion of having long, lean legs.

Here’s an interesting fact. When a woman wears four-inch heels, all of her body weight is on the two little bones sitting underneath the big toe. That’s a lot of pressure for two small bones to endure all day long.

Over 50% of women admitted to regularly experiencing foot pain from wearing uncomfortable shoes. It’s no wonder that women who wear high heels regularly for many years experience serious foot and ankle issues, all in the name of fashion. Just ask Carrie Bradshaw. After many years of wearing high heels on Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker has got some serious foot problems.


This video shows exactly what your foot looks like in high heels. It’s pretty interesting stuff. This x-ray was taken by the new 3D foot and ankle scanner from the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH). This technology, called pedCAT, allows the doctor to see the foot in “true, weight bearing positioning.” Even in x-ray form, that foot doesn’t look very comfortable.

For many years, podiatrists have warned us of the potential foot problems from wearing high heels. Some related medical conditions are hammertoes, stress fractures, ingrown toenails, nerve damage, corns, calluses and tight heel cords. Tight heel cords are caused by the shortening of your Achilles tendon and, over time, make wearing flats uncomfortable or even painful.

So my question is, why must we endure unnecessary foot pain for fashion’s sake? The last thing I want to do over a future summer vacation is have bunion surgery or straighten ten hammertoes which could’ve easily been avoided by wearing more sensible foot wear.

But even with the possibility of future foot surgery, women still refuse to give up their high heels. I get it. I’m not ready to toss mine out either. I don’t think I ever will. And I’m in good company. A survey conducted by the American Podiatric Medical Association showed about 42% of women admitted they would wear a shoe they liked even if it gave them discomfort. And 73% admitted they already had a shoe-related foot issue. Ugh, why do we torture ourselves?

Even if we’re all not high-heel loving people, most of us have seen someone hobble past us wearing both a beautiful pump and a painful look on her face. There’s got to be a better way. Why can’t we feel glamorous in soft, comfy shoes?


If Sofia Vergara can pull it off, maybe we can too. In a Modern Family episode last season, the entire Pritchett family went to Disneyland. Sofia’s character, Gloria, was in a very cranky mood because she wore high heels and her feet were killing her. I could feel her pain.

Jay went into the gift shop and bought her a pair of the most comfortable and cushiony-looking Minnie Mouse slippers I’ve ever seen. To me, those slippers were the most beautiful shoes in the world. I think Gloria thought so too. Her mood instantly changed and she was happy again. See what can happen when we do something so kind for our feet, like redistribute 100-plus pounds of body weight off of those teeny, tiny toe bones? Slippers can be very powerful, that’s all I’m saying.

We need to make slippers more socially acceptable as everyday footwear. Maybe I’m not thinking clearly from my own years of aching feet, but here me out. If Cosmo or Vogue could show models sporting soft, cotton-candy like slippers in an array of the latest fall colors, then maybe it will catch on. Maybe then women will finally feel okay to have happy toes that can wiggle freely. We all need to see the true beauty of a fuzzy slipper.


I think it’s time to create National Slipper Day. For one glorious day women everywhere could wear slippers to work, the grocery store or hiking and it would be acceptable, no matter what their profession. Just imagine a woman defending a case in the Supreme Court in her favorite bunny slippers. Or a waitress wearing a nice Dearfoams fleece-lined slipper during her eight-hour shift. Hopefully people will change their definition of stylish to include that which is truly comfortable.

Until then, I guess we’ll continue to endure the socially-acceptable, yet crazy, norm of cramming our ten toes into a pointed stiletto. That is, until the RNOH can influence shoe design in the future with their pedCAT technology.  Their goal is to help make shoes to fit our feet instead of the other way around. I can’t wait! When that happens, I’ll be dancing with joy.

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