6 Tips to Reduce High Heel Pain


Ladies, if you’re one of the millions of women who wear high heels on a daily basis...listen up!

FUN FACT: wearing high heels puts over 15x the amount of pressure per square inch under the heel than an ELEPHANT exudes on the ground!!

NOT SO FUN FACT: the change in your posture while wearing heels can lead to low back pain, metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, calf strains, knee and ankle pain.


Here we have a simple equation that explains how the pressure of a 110 lb female wearing heels exerts a force on the ground equivalent to 40 times atmospheric pressure.

formula to calculate pressure

Just kidding, that equation is much too complicated.

Let’s break down some of the most important biomechanical changes that occur when wearing heels.

The narrow toe box creates an inability for the toes to spread fully and function correctly during toe off. Bunions ring a bell?

The structure of the shoe raises the arch of the foot off of the ground, stretching and impairing the plantar fascia to act as a shock absorber and a propeller of energy. The lack of help from the plantar fascia creates shorter (and more) steps taken. This positions also chronically shortens the calf and achilles. Plantar fasciitis, take a bow.

The forced position of the foot downwards (plantarflexion), places 90% of the body’s weight on the forefoot (the metatarsals) while in the stance phase, instead of evenly throughout the foot. Metatarsalgia isn’t as fun as it is to pronounce it.

The ankle becomes very unstable as it is placed in an unlocked position. Any prior injuries to the ankle will hit repeat much easier than when in a non-raised shoe. Hello, inversion ankle sprain.

Your body tries to counteract this major weight bearing shift by pushing the chest forward and increasing the low back curve so you don’t fall over. Low back, hip and knee pain can ensue.

So, now that you’ve been enlightened...you’re going to go home and throw out your Manolo collection (or Target) of pretty pumps, right?


Unfortunately, not a lot of innovation in the shoe industry has been made in the past 50 years in the high heel department. In the meantime, following some of these tips can reduce the stress on your feet, ankles, knees, hips and low back.

6 Tips to Reduce High Heel Pain

  • Avoid wearing heels for long periods of time (try bringing or keeping an extra pair of shoes at work.)

  • Try and keep your heels under 2 inches in height.

  • Avoid a shoe with a pointed toe.

  • Rotate which shoes you wear daily (heels one day, practical shoes the next day).

  • Foam roll your calves and sole of your foot before and after wearing heels.

  • See your local sports chiropractor on a regular basis!   :)



For a little more detail on the subject, check out this page.

This ABC News video, illustrates the damage that is caused by wearing high heels.

Scan reveals high heels cause foot damage. Specialists at England's Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital use new scanner to view the foot and ankle.