Tips from Dr. William Knudson: Why High Heels Are Bad

Dr. William Knudson has had more than a few conversations with patients at Podiatric Care of Northern Virginia practice that are attached to wearing heels. Each day, Dr. William Knudson sees patients who are suffering the aftereffects of heels worn decades ago. In an attempt to point out the damage that high heels can cause, Dr. William Knudson explains the negative impact these shoes have on a woman’s foot.

  • Bunions. Over time, Dr. William Knudson has noticed female bunion sufferers outnumber male bunion sufferers ten to one. The doctor links this to wearing heels and other uncomfortable shoes. With heels, Dr. William Knudson believes, the toe is positioned unnaturally for long periods of time, cramping it in a small space. Over time this can lead to the development of bunions.
  • Arch strain. According to Dr. William Knudson, high heels stretch the arch, which is a tightly connected network of tendons and tissues. Stress on this area can cause problems like plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the fascia tissues. If left untreated, plantar fasciitis can lead to painful heel spurs, Dr. William Knudson warns.
  • Achilles tendon. High heels tend to shorten the Achilles tendon, Dr. William Knudson warns, which can cause wearing flats to become uncomfortable over time.
  • Morton’s neuroma. This pain is a result of nerve damage between toes and can be particularly painful, according to Dr. William Knudson. It is usually caused by abnormal positioning of the toes, as Dr. William Knudson points out often happens with high heels.
  • Corns and calluses. Caused when the bone presses against the skin for an extended degree. As Dr. William Knudson describes, both corns and calluses can be caused by wearing high heels, with calluses being particularly prevalent. In extreme cases, Dr. William Knudson has found the pressure can cause a bony prominence to form, sometimes leading to the need for surgery.

In addition to the many health problems that may arise, Dr. William Knudson has helped patients understand that high-heeled shoes shift all of the weight to the ball of the foot, which places far too much pressure on the tissues of that area. Additionally, this unnatural foot position places strain on a patient’s back, which Dr. William Knudson says can force the patient to eventually have lower back problems.

Foot surgery can be painful, requiring months of recovery time. Dr. William Knudson advises patients steer clear of heels if only to avoid one of these procedures in the future. There are many fashionable flats with proper arch support that will promote foot health. If absolutely necessary to wear heels on occasion—as a job requirement, for instance—wear the heels for as short a time as possible. By taking comfortable shoes with you, you can change as soon as you’re able, reducing the amount of time your feet spend in an unnatural position, says Dr. Knudson.

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