The Truth about your “Achilles” High Heels


Nicole Prestley, Research Coordinator, WHRI

As a member of a research institute, I have been trained to use evidence-based information to dictate (most of) my decisions.  Recently the Washington Post posted an infographic generated by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which illustrates the ugly, evidence-based, truth about high heels – Louboutin Lovers brace yourselves.

A pain in the knee
One of the studies looked at women’s shoes and knee osteoarthritis and found that wearing heels increase pressure on the knee by as much as 26%.  Your spine and hips also feel the impact as your centre of gravity changes and they are put out of alignment.

Pump problems
The type of shoe also matters – the tighter or more narrow the toebox, the higher the chance of developing Morton’s neuroma (pain and numbness in the toes).  Tighter shoes can also lead to the development of bunions (bony calcification around the joint at the head of the big toe).

The higher the heel…
The higher the heel, the more pressure is put on the ball of your foot; 3-inch heels can put upwards of 76% pressure, which can lead to metatarsalgia (pain and inflammation at the ball of your foot).   The higher the heel, the shorter your Achilles tendon; over time, the tendon shortens which can create heel pain.

Good news
For many Vancouverites, our feet are our transportation; the next time you leave the house, think twice about what you’re putting on them.   Fashionable foot friendly solutions do exist.  Stores such as The Right Shoe and Ronsons are a great first step towards prevention of injuries and healthier feet.

HighHeels18[1]


SOURCE: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Apparel & Footwear Association, American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, Mayo Clinic, Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, “Women’s Shoes and Knee Osteoarthritis,” by D. Casey Kerrigan, Jenn.
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