4 Ways Wearing High Heels Can End Up Messing With Your Entire Body

by Camille Theobald

High heels, stilettos, cone heels, pumps, wedges and platforms all mean the same thing: foot pain that makes me want to punch inanimate objects.

I was born into a society that has told women if we want high positions and power, we must wear heels. But, I'm calling BS on that.

When I became serious about my health, the first bad habit I dropped was wearing high heels on a regular basis.

Other than not giving into the patriarchy, there are plenty of reasons to not wear these torture devices.

Here are just a few:

1. They can lead to joint and knee issues.

No one wants to be that old lady who never leaves home because her knees hurt, especially when you're just hitting 30.

A study done by Iowa State University found that high heels may lead to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis.

The researchers explain in the study that your knees are shock absorbers, so when you wear heels, there is added pressure to the inner area, making you more susceptible to osteoarthritis.

2. They can throw off your entire body alignment.

Heels totally throw off your alignment because they are causing all of your weight to go into the ball of your foot and toes.

Your toes were not meant to carry all your weight, and they can't handle the pressure.

Because you are throwing all your weight into the front of your foot, you compensate by pushing your hips forward and arching your back.

This strains your hips and lower back muscles big time, causing pain.

If your back hurts from wearing heels all day, it's not very likely you will be standing up much or taking that hip hop abs class you had scheduled so you could reach your fitness goals that week.

3. They can damage your tendons.

I understand if you have a big presentation or event, but the second that's done, release your feet from jail. They've done their time and deserve freedom.

And if you've spent eight hours forcing your feet into an unholy position, switching from heels to flats can just add to the pain.

That's because wearing heels day after day can make the fibers in the calf muscles shorten and cause the Achilles tendon to become tighter and thicker.

This will eventually cause chronically taut and shortened ankle and calf tendons because they get so used to being crunched up that when you flatten your foot, it stretches them and makes wearing sneakers painful.

4. They can make you lazy.

When I would wear heels, I made any excuse to sit down.

Anytime I was forced to walk or stand while wearing heels, especially on the subway, I would give the evil eye to every man who didn't give up their seat because obviously they didn't understand the sacrifice I was making.

Later, I realized they don't deserve that hate. I should be hating myself for not taking care of my own feet and overall well-being.

In the words of author and biomechanical scientist Katy Bowman in her book, "Every Woman's Guide To Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet,"

If you've got 'wearing high heels' listed on your job contract, please send it to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That requirement shouldn't be there.

So if you are anything like me and become a seat hog while wearing heels, it's likely you won't be walking much.

Walking is by far one of the easiest ways to burn calories throughout your day, and it's been proven time and time again to be on of the best exercises known to man.

So, you're missing out on physical activity that the average human should do on a daily basis.

Studies have proven that sitting for eight hours or more a day can lead to a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and shorter life spans, even if you exercise.

That may sound dramatic, but think about how different your day is when you wear comfortable shoes and don't even think twice about walking to the water cooler to let your legs stretch a bit.

OK, so maybe you don't have to wear heels at work, but you love to wear them every night you go out.

The morning after wearing heels all night at the club, it's time to hit the gym.

Do you still feel like going to spin class when your feet are throbbing and your lower back feels like it's being punched at from the inside? I don't know anyone who would want to work out while dealing with knee, back and hip pain.

It's reasonable to not want to, and I commend you for listening to your body. But, you could have avoided all that pain by wearing kitten heels, flat platforms or cute high tops.

Moderation is key.

Glen Pfeffer, MD, director of the Foot and Ankle Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, explained,

Like everything in life, it has to do with moderation. This season, heels are going up with the Dow—they're up to four or five inches now, and it's just common sense that we're not meant to walk on our toes long-term.

I'm not asking you to throw away every pair of stilettos you own, but maybe you should invest in comfortable dress shoes that won't leave you bedridden in your 50s.

If you have to wear heels, at least leave your 4” torture machines for special occasions, and get a cute pair of orthopedic heels for everyday type situations.

I know “orthopedic” sounds super lame, but there are so many cute brands out there making huge strides on comfortable dress shoes for women like this orthopedic surgeon who invented an entire line of sexy stilettos that hug your feet.

In the end, it's about taking care of your body (yes, even your feet) so you can live a long, happy and healthy life.

So, stop grossing out your pedicurist and wear some comfortable shoes!