The things we enjoy aren’t always the things that are good for us. Just look at high heels as an example—they can do serious, painful damage to your feet, yet many women choose to wear them day in and day out. If you have had a hard time letting go of your high heel habit, find out what is really happening to your feet when you wear these shoes.


The Unnatural Foot Position of Heels

Consider the natural foot position of humans. You were meant to walk heel first, placing the majority of your weight on your heels and pressing on to your forefoot quickly before repeating. Heels completely change that up.

A study in JAMA indicates that wearing heels causes you to place an unnatural amount of pressure on your forefoot, shifting weight off of the heels. This effect becomes more profound as you move to higher heels. Over time, this can weaken your heels and place an inordinate amount of stress on your forefeet.

What is Happening in Your Body When You Wear Heels

Thanks to modern medical technology, researchers and doctors can look at exactly how the body functions when a woman wears high heels. High heels cause the stomach to push forward and the butt to push back. While this may look nice, it changes the natural distribution of weight on your spine and adds pressure to your lower back.


Some reports even show one vertebrae pushing forward in front of another as a result of wearing high heels. This is an extremely painful condition, and it’s one that you take the risk of whenever you wear heels.

Perhaps the worst part of wearing heels is what they do to your legs. Because of the altered position of your foot, your calf muscles are significantly shorter when you wear high heels. This leads to shortened Achilles tendons. This may not hurt you when you are wearing heels, but you’ll definitely notice it when you switch back to flats.

When you walk barefoot or in flats again, your foot once again maintains a 90° angle with your leg. Suddenly, your Achilles tendons are under a massive amount of pressure. This can cause the tendon to strain or even tear. You can undo this damage by staying away from heels and getting your feet used to flats again, but it does take time.

Dangers of Heel Usage

You run the risk of certain conditions and injuries when you wear high heels on a regular basis. These are just some of the most common dangers of high heels:

  • Strained muscles around the ankles
  • Back pain due to your center of gravity shifting forward
  • Weakened Achilles tendons
  • Numbness in the toes
  • Permanent nerve damage in the toes
  • Weakened calf muscles

You don’t have to get rid of high heels completely, especially if you love wearing them for special occasions. However, you should definitely consider wearing flats or going barefoot most of the time. This is how your feet are naturally intended to be, and keeping them this way can improve your overall health.



Sources: HealtHunitsWomens Health / The Science of Eating