In conversations with patients, Dr. Knudson says that most women are aware high heels are not the best for foot health. Many continue to wear these shoes anyway, however, due to the perceived fashionable nature of them. And while he acknowledges that sometimes a woman may have no choice to wear heels, whether for a special event or as a requirement for a job, Dr. William Knudson still wants to remind his patients about the long-term damage sustained by wearing high-heeled shoes for excessive lengths of time.
Q: Why are heels so bad?
Dr. William Knudson: The foot has a natural shape that is distorted by the shape of a heel. Over time, this can lead to a change in the shape of the foot that causes pain even when the wearer is in flats or barefoot.
Q: Many pairs of high-heeled shoes have cramped toes. Is this bad, too?
Dr. William Knudson: Yes, absolutely. The shoe should mimic the shape of a person’s foot. Cramped toes can lead to foot problems including neuromas.
Q: What other foot problems can be caused by wearing high heels?
Dr. William Knudson: For one, bone spurs can occur as a result of wearing heels for extended periods of time. Hammertoe can also happen over time as well.
Q: Hammertoe is where the toes become permanently deformed, right?
Dr. William Knudson: With hammertoe, a person’s toe becomes bent in a particular direction but it’s not always permanent. In some cases switching to proper footwear can resolve the problem.
Q: I’ve noticed that calluses can also build up over time. Why is that?
Dr. William Knudson: Calluses and corns can form as a result of wearing heels. This can be caused by wearing improper-fitting shoes of any type, though.
Q: Heels aren’t the only cause of foot pain, right?
Dr. William Knudson: Correct. Supportive footwear in general is essential to long-term foot health. One survey found that women had a far higher instance of foot pain as they got older than men, due to wearing shoes like sandals, flip flops, and heels.
Q: Feet aren’t the only things that suffer from heels, though.
Dr. William Knudson: I see patients who also have back problems, leg problems, and ankle problems from wearing shoes with inadequate support. That doesn’t even take into account the number of injuries that occur each year as a result of someone falling in high heels.
Q: What about women who want to be stylish while still keeping their feet safe?
Dr. William Knudson: Plenty of shoes are available with proper support. The key is to research online before heading out to the store. Good quality, name brand shoes will often be of much higher quality than bargain basement discount shoes. Look for highly reviewed shoes on clearance for the best value.