High Heels Shoes And Pain In Women

My website as allowed me to interact and consult with people from around the world and I’m extremely grateful for that. I’d say about 7 out of every 10 woman that emails me is dealing with some sort of hip or low back pain.

Why? If 7 out of every 10 women have the same problem, then what’s the deal? What’s the one common factor that all of these women share?

They all wear high heels and high heels equal hip and low back pain, almost every single time. A three inch heel has been proven to create seven times more stress on the foot then a one inch heel.

The higher the heel the more the biomechanics of the foot changes.  Schwartz et al (1) reported that the distribution of weight in the forefoot shifted away from the fifth metatarsal and increased the weight over the third and fourth toe. 59 percent of women surveyed wearing high heel shows at least one to eight hours a day

So why does the pain begin?

Essentially what happens is termed a hallux valgus and bunion formation. In these conditions, one more more of the foot’s three arches collapse or lost structural integrity which completely changes normal toeing off and the weight transfer to the forefoot. The muscles then contract differently which leads to abnormal lateral movement of the mid foot.

The heel is effected as well.

When frequently wearing high heels, the foot is forced on a downward angle which decreases the degree of tension that the heel normally goes under. This also limits the blood supply to the ligaments in the ankle which make ankle sprains more likely in women. Gaswirth et al (2) looked at various foot movements in various heel positions and concluded the following

“Proximal symptomatology associated with wearing high heels, such as knee, hip and back problems, may in part be related to (a) restriction of subtalar joint pronation. The subtalar joint pronation that normally occurs at heel strike aids in shock absorption. If this pronation is limited, an increased shock wave must be absorbed by the joints proximal to the foot.”

Fixing The Problem

Contrary to popular belief , the solution is not to eliminate high heels all together. Only heels of greater than 2 inches significantly effects the lower extremities and their gait patterns.

Corrective exercise is the next step and I recommend that you focus on your glutes and your ankle mobility.

Here’s a video that I put together for some female clients about a direct glute workout. These movements will be the main movements that you want to focus on in order to prevent or reduce hip pain.

The next area that you want to focus on is your hip flexor muscles and this movement is best stretched with the following exercise.

Lastly, you’ll want to mobilize your ankle joint and that is best performed with the following ankle mobility drill. Keep in mind, I’m performing mine a little too fast so so it down and start a little closer to the wall.


1)Schwartz RP, Heath AL, Misiek W. The influence of the shoe on gait. J Bone Joint Surg1935; 17:406.

2)Gastwirth BW, et al. An electrodynographic study of foot function in shoes of varying heel heights. J Am Podiatric Med Assoc 1991; 81:463-472.

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