Patient Guide: Smart Tips for Wearing High Heels

High heels pose a challenge for foot health, but there are ways to wear them safely

ROSEMONT, Ill. (Dec. 15, 2015) – Women and high heels: it’s a love-hate relationship. Despite the acceptance of high heels in women’s fashion, these shoes continue to cause pain and even injuries for many wearers. And the list of potential problems is long, say orthopaedic foot and ankle specialists.
Take stress fractures, for example. The higher the heel, the greater a woman’s risk for this type of fracture that comes from repeated stress on the ball of the foot. And there’s toenail damage, which can develop from the constant sliding down of the foot into a narrow and tight space.
But by far the most common injuries that come from wearing too-high heels are sprains and fractures. “Women wearing high heels can easily twist the foot or ankle, leading to a sprain that has lasting effects,” says Robert Santrock, an orthopaedic foot and ankle specialist in Morgantown, W.Va. “Twisting injuries in high heels can also result in a broken bone in the foot or ankle.”
Fortunately, women can wear fashionable shoes and avoid some of the most common problems from very high heels. For example, a lower heel height will decrease pressure on the ball of the foot and help avoid pain and other problems. A wider toe box—that is, the area for the toes within the shoe—will reduce toe crowding and relieve pressure. Finally, reducing the amount of time spent in any type of heels will help reduce the chances of a twisting injury, says Santrock.
To learn more about other foot conditions caused by excessive use of high heels, visit the Smart Tips for Wearing High Heels page at, the patient education site of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Specialists.
About the AOFAS
The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through the education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. The Society creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government and industry as well as the national and international health care communities.​

About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries of the foot and ankle. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. Relying on four years of medical school training, five years of post-graduate training and often a fellowship in foot and ankle care, orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle. 
Jennifer Hicks
Director of Public Education