Dreading those stilettos? How to undo damage done by high heels

When walking in heels, increased pressure is placed on the balls of the feet through a downward force

Vahdaneh Vahid

Published: Updated:

For most women this may be a painful truth to hear, but wearing high heels regularly and for long periods of time can alter the way you walk, cause back pain, and lead to long-term bone and joint problems.

When walking in heels, increased pressure is placed on the balls of the feet through a downward force.

As the foot is in a more fixed downward position, you are not able to push off the ground with as much force.

Infographic: Are you dreading those stilletos?
Infographic: Are you dreading those stilletos?

This causes your muscles at the front of your hips (hip flexors) to work harder to move and pull your body forward.

When your hip flexors are chronically overused, the muscle becomes short and tight. This may lead to increased curvature in your lower back.

The increased pressure in the feet causes the rest of your body to adjust in order to maintain your balance.


Your lower body leans forward, and to compensate for that the upper body must lean back to keep you balanced. This is not your body’s normal standing position.

Walking in high heels is like walking on a balance beam. It takes a lot of balance, so there a likelihood of a fall or ankle-sprain.

Habitually wearing high heels can lead to long-term adaptations in the muscles and tendons around the ankle joint.

Reducing injury and muscle tightness

The downward foot position cause calf muscles to become short and tight, and a stiffer Achilles tendon will reduced ankle flexibility.

These changes will result in a less efficient walking pattern, and problems when wearing flat shoes, especially while playing sports.


Applying self-myofascia release will help improve mobility and reduce muscle tightness, increasing flexibility.

Use a tennis ball for the first few sessions, then use a denser tool such as a baseball or lacrosse ball.

Place the tennis ball directly underneath the highest portion of your calf muscles. Place one leg on the ball to allow the muscle to settle into the tender spot

Once you feel it has settle in, place the second leg onto the first to apply more force. As the tension releases, slowly move your way down the calf toward the Achilles tendon (above the back of the heel).

Hold each release for one to three minutes, depending on how tender the area is. Breathing deeply into the release will help the muscle relax more.

If the tires of your car are out of alignment, you can only drive so many miles before you are at risk of them busting. The same is true for your body and the importance of being in alignment.

Only wear high heels for special occasions, and even then only at a height of up to 1.5 inches. Your feet and body will thank for you it in the long run.

Fitness expert Vahdaneh Vahid can be reached on Facebook and Instagram.