Graph Shows Just How Bad Your Heels are for Your Feet

I just came cross a great infograph on the Huffington Post site that’s designed to show women how much damage is done tHeels vs. flats? You know which one I want you to choose!o their feet by certain types of high heels. According to their chart, stiletto heels are the absolute worst for your feet, followed closely by trendy over-the-knee boots and the all-year Houston favorite—flip flops.

Why were stilettos the worst offenders? As I’ve been saying forever, they can lead to the greatest number of foot problems, including hyperextension, ankle sprains, mid-foot fractures, neuromas, pinched nerves, bunions and hammertoes.

On the opposite end of the shoe spectrum, flip-flops are almost as bad for your feet, leaving toes vulnerable to infection because of their openness. Also, when those toes hang over the edge of the flip-flops (a pet-peeve of my wife’s and a potentially dangerous condition coined as “muffin toe”) you’re also at risk of smacking your toe into something hard and breaking it. As if those hazards weren’t enough, the utter flatness of a flip-flop provides no arch support and the thong between your toes can make you clench to keep your shoe in place, potentially leaving you with tendonitis of the foot.

Also on the “high-risk” list, as you can see, are high-heeled boots which pretty much do all the bad things stilettos do and platform wedges which can cause problems if the heel height is over two inches.

What’s most interesting is that the chart highlights a little-known fact—even comfortable, supposedly sensible shoe options can put you at risk for some foot problems—for example, rain boots, made of non-breathable materials and less well fitted to your feet than regular shoes, can put you at risk for athlete’s foot and blisters.

My point in sharing this graph is not to scare you—clearly you can’t always wear running sneakers, the shoe ranked as most comfortable and least risky. My hope in giving you this information is that you will choose safer footwear options when possible and minimize your time wearing the worst offenders, my nemesis the stiletto heel.

Don’t worry—if I’m too late and your high-heel addiction has already left you with foot pain, I’ll still help you out. Come visit my Houston podiatry office, Tanglewood Foot Specialists, and I’ll get you back in (sensible) heels in no time.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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Dr. Andrew Schneider is a podiatrist and foot surgeon at Tanglewood Foot Specialists in Houston, TX.
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