Have you cringed yet today?

Well, let us help you with that.

You probably already know that high heeled shoes are not your best bet for foot health. But they just look so damn good, don’t they? They slim the leg and — in my case — make a size 10 foot look just a little bit less like a water ski.

High heels transfer weight almost exclusively to the ball of the foot, causing immediate discomfort in the forefoot and calluses, corns and blisters. Those of us who don’t wear heels often wonder how y’all do it so often.

Because the real danger comes from wearing high heels regularly, over years. And, unless you are paid to wear head-to-toe lycra like your BB trainers, chances are you’re prettying up your feet with heels on a regular basis at the office. After all, a pencil skirt with a pair of Nikes just screams “I’m here in person but I’m ready to make a break for it and jog home at any time.”Not to mention evenings out. Flats are cute but they’re just not the same.

A recent study in the Journal of Experimental Biology reported that women who wore high heels five times a week for two years had calf muscles that were 13 percent shorter and Achilles tendons that were substantially stiffer and thicker than those of women who wore flat shoes. The distance the high-heel wearers could flex their feet up and down was also drastically reduced. For pregnant and postpartum women, foot flexibility and strength is already a regular concern, and wearing heels could increase your symptoms of tension, pain and reduced range of motion. 

Worse yet, an Iowa State University study published this summer found that high heels put extra pressure on a woman’s knee joints, increasing the risk of joint degeneration and osteoarthritis. The higher, the riskier.

Hard to visualize when you look down and see that distracting toe cleavage, isn’t it? OK, let us drive the point home. Check out this first-ever 3D scan of the high-heeled foot. It just looks painful. 


Not wearing high heels might not be realistic. You can do a few things, though:

  • stretch your feet and ankles by extending your leg & pulling your toes back, or by standing on a step with heels hanging down. Try this hamstring stretch to loosen the entire rear of the leg, from ankle to butt.
  • opt for bare feet at home to allow natural foot movement.
  • choose sensible shoes when you can. Lucky for you, flats are stylish these days. Limit heels to outfits that really NEED heels.

Use these guidelines from The Healthy Footwear Guide to choose those sensible (i.e., not going to deform your feet) shoes:

And remember girls, friends don’t let friends wear pencil skirts and Nikes. Calluses or not.