This Is How Stilettos Are Killing Your Feet, Literally

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There is nothing else in a woman’s beauty arsenal that is quite like the stiletto. Slipping them on instantly improves your posture, makes you stand taller and more proud. It’s as if you look instantly slimmer when you wear them, instantly put together. They can salvage cheap ill-fitting jeans just as they can save you from the few extra pounds you’ve gained over the holidays (don’t worry we’ve all been there!) Ah, the stiletto both a boon and a curse. The heels that make us tall and proud are also the same heels that give us severe foot and leg pain after a long day at work. “The vain don’t complain” we tell ourselves, but our poor feet beg to differ. More and more scientific evidence has come out, pointing a finger at our beloved high heels as the culprit for chronic back pain, foot deformities and nerve inflammation.

If you’re still in denial, read on.


You may have noticed that children’s feet are distinctly different from adults’ because their toes are wider apart while adults’ toes seem to be jammed together. This phenomenon is more common in women, whose shoes tend to be so much narrower on the front than it should be, forcing the toes to be constantly squashed together. Prolonged use of high heels may cause the small toes of the feet to claw inward while the big toe juts forward, a decidedly unnatural position for toes to be in.

The downward foot position could also cause the feet to turn to the outside permanently, eventually making it hard to walk on flats.


With your toes, muscles and bones so scrunched in together like that, it is quite impossible to avoid nerve damage. The pushing forward of the foot and its encasing in such a narrow space forces the bones to be in awkward angles at each other, increasing the chances of nerves getting pinched in between the bones of the foot. This is especially true when you wear stiletto heeled pumps all the time.


Constant pressure and friction on the toes and sides of the feet can lead to the development of blisters, corns, bunions, hammer toes and neuromas. High heels also cause what some people call the “pump bump”. The rigid backs of pumps will usually rub at the Achilles’ heel causing a permanent bump on the area. 


Feet are designed to act as spring-loaded, weight distributing shock absorbers. This function is important so as not to cause unnecessary pressure on other areas of the body like the knees, spine and lower back. When the foot is at unnatural angles (such as when wearing 4 inch heels) the dynamics of the foot are completely changed leaving your knees, spine and lower back to suffer the pressures of walking or daily activity.

Besides compromising foot function, especially high heels can cause hairline fractures to the bones and increase chances of trips to the E.R. for ankle sprain.


The increased pressure on the ball of the foot caused by uneven distribution of body weight from the angle provided by stilettos can cause a pea sized bone in the foot, called the sesamoid, to be buried further inward. The displacement of this bone could affect nerve function, make it hard to walk or cause chronic pain. Most women who wear heels will either wear them all day at the office or all night at a party or, even worse, both. Keeping your feet in that position for long hours at a time can cause your joints to become arthritic, gradually making it more and more painful to use your feet.


Wearing high heels results to uneven weight distribution on your feet – most of the pressure is shifted to the balls and the heels of the feet. Increased pressure on your heel could cause you to develop plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a thick connective tissue that runs through the bottom of your feet. This connective tissue originates from the Achilles’ heel and runs all the way down to the front of the foot which is why increased pressure on the heel can cause this connective tissue to become inflamed.

The short term and long term effects of wearing stilettos can be quite daunting. Not only does regularly wearing high heels cause your feet to become quite deformed, but the possibility of permanent nerve damage should be enough for you to be weary of wearing high heeled shoes no matter how great they make you look.