How High Heels May Be Hazardous To Your Health

You may love your high heels, but they might land you in the emergency room. A recent study found that injuries from high heels doubled between 2002 and 2012. People between the ages of 20 and 29 had the most injuries, followed by those age 30 to 39.

Using data from the Consumer Product Safety Commissionís National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a University of Alabama at Birmingham research team found there were 123,355 injuries due to high heels between 2002 and 2012. There were more than 19,000 injuries in 2011 alone.

More than 80 percent of injuries were to the ankles and feet. Twenty percent involved knees, trunk, shoulder, head, or neck. About half were sprains and strains, and 19 percent were fractures. Almost half the injuries happened at home.

High heels can hurt your lower legs, ankles and feet. Walking in high-heeled shoes also reduces ankle muscle movement, step length, total range of movement and balance control. All that strain on your lower legs can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.

The research, led by Gerald McGwin, Ph.D., vice chair and professor of the Department of Epidemiology in the UAB School of Public Health, was published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery.

According to the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), almost half of all women wear high heels. Most of them say high heels hurt their feet. Almost half say they wear three inch heels or higher. The average woman who owns high heels owns nine pairs.

High heels are the most common reason for foot pain. Half of adults say foot pain has affected their quality of life in some way.

The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) recommends shoes with a heel of an inch and a half or less and a wide heel base that will distribute weight better. Soft insoles can also help reduce impact on your knees.

Heels higher than two inches cause your foot to slide forward in your shoe. That forces toes into an unnatural shape and distributes your weight incorrectly. That makes your body tilt forward, which in turn makes you lean backwards. That posture strains your knees, hips and lower back.

Wear them too often, and you’ll shorten the muscles in your calves and in your back, causing pain and muscle spasms.

If you’re going to wear them, try not to wear them too long or too often. And be careful out there.

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Photo: titaya sukchuay | iStock | Thinkstock


Lindsay Kemp
Lindsay Kemp2 years ago

This is a really hot topic today, as a woman was sent home from work without pay because she refused to wear high heels (2 - 4 inches). There is a petition online asking the UK Government to make it illegal for employers to require women to wear high heels as part of the dress code.

I have diabetes and can't wear high heels (quite apart from my bad back and knees!), but I do wear court shoes with heels of 1.5 - 2 inches reasonably comfortably. I buy them, expensively from Hotters, a company that has the wonderfully comfortable shoes and great designs. But it is worth it!

Nina S.
Nina S3 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Melania Padilla
Melania P3 years ago

I just use them to go out to fancy places, parties or whatever. Flats for me everyday :)

Genre Chowder
Sanaa Naeem3 years ago

Here we are, more reasons not to wear heels. I never thought they looked that good, apparently, they do horrible damage to your body, and on hard surfaces, they sound like a two-legged horse. High heels come off to me as that one unnecessary layer of makeup. I'll never understand people.

Then again, I drink soda, so... *shrugs* I dunno. Give and take.

Vikram S.
Vikram S3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Igor Panteleyev
Past Member 3 years ago

Mama told me never wear those or else :)))))

Yuliya Grishina
Yuliya Grishina3 years ago

Thank you

Renee M.
Renee M3 years ago

I love the way high heels look but they are too uncomfortable for me to wear all the time. I save them for special occasions.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 years ago