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  • Writer's pictureMy Osteo Charlotte

The right heels

With Christmas season coming, many women are going to look for the perfect pair of pumps. Since childhood we perceive heel shoes as an attribute of femininity. Moreover Cinderella does not lose a flip-flop or a basket on the way, no ... She loses a heel shoe!

However these precious leg and buttocks « shapers » are sometimes the cause of many pains. When midnight rings, the feet, calves and back tend to turn not into pumpkin but stew.

Therefore we have to ask ourselves what are the impacts of the heels on our body ?

How to choose them and what to do in case of pain ?


Did you know that the heel of the shoe was invented in the sixteenth century?

The shoe and especially the heel impact our posture. The higher the heel the more the body weight tilts forward which increases the pressure on the toes. Unable to move freely, the toes can then undergo deformations and become painful: hallux valgus, onion, metatarsalgia, claw toe/hammer toe ...

You will notice that it is mostly women who resort to foot corrective surgeries like hallux valgus.

As the center of gravity is modified the ankle becomes unstable, which increases the risk of sprains.

Also this anterior support exerts an excessive pressure on the knees (+ 20% of pressure) - the ball joint locks in the articulation which can increase the frictions, favoring osteoarthritis.

The muscles of the calf are over-solicited and the frequent use of high heels may cause retraction of achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis and venous return disorders.

Also this causes a forward pelvis swing, increasing the lumbar curvature. The posterior muscles of the column contract to straighten the back, which digs the lower back and favors lumbalgia.

Walking in high heels is like trying to write with fingers stuck together. The toes are not free of their movements; thus the function is less assured.


When choosing pumps, 2 main criteria have to be considered: the height and the width of the heels.

- Heel Height

It is necessary to privilege small heels: the recommendation is 5cm maximum.

With a low heel, the body weight is evenly distributed between the heel and the base of the foot.

Despite coquetries we should not forget that originally we are made to run barefoot in nature ...

- Heel width

The wider the better as it promotes stability.


If you do not feel like swaping your pumps, here are some tips:

- Wear heels occasionally It is essential to alternate with flat shoes and keep heels for special occasions. Do not hesitate to keep a backup pair in your bag (be careful with ballerina : it has a thin sole and no heel which ensures little support of the foot).

- Limit the wearing of heels if:         > History of ankle sprain

        > Presence of any lower limb injury

        > Lower back pain

        > Pregnancy : some pregnancies can lead to back pain; so heels can intensify the pains

- Do exercises and stretchings         > Massage your feet or roll a tennis ball under the base of your feet: this relaxes the muscles,  restarts the blood circulation & brings relief

        > Stretch your legs         > Stand on one foot: improves ankle proprioception and balance

For more information on these stretches and exercises, do not hesitate to contact me.

This year at the twelve midnight’ strokes, your feet won’t hurt!

Charlotte Mernier,

French Osteopath London


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Ebbeling CJ., Hamill J., Crussemeyer JA., (1994) Lower extremity mechanics and energy cost of walking in high-heeled shoes. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 19(4) : 190-196.

Falola JM. et al, (2014) A randomized controlled trial: effect of wearing high-heeled shoes on the lower appendicular skeleton. The Pan African Medical Journal, 20(191).

Lee CM., Jeong EH., Freivalds A., (2001) Biomechanical effects of wearing High-heeled shoes. International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics, 28(6) :321-326.

Opila KA., Wagner S., Schiowitz S. et al, (1988) Postural alignment in barefoot and high-heeled stance. Spine, 13(5):542-547.

Snow RE., Williams KR., (1994) High heeled shoes : their effect on center of mass position, posture, three-dimensional kinematics, rearfoot motion, and ground réaction forces. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 75(5) :568-576.

Speksnijder, CM. et al, The higher the heel the higher the forefoot-pressure in ten healthy women. The Foot, 15(1) :17-21.

Spitz P., Villeneuve Ph., (2000) Le port de chaussures modifie t’il l’équilibre postural ?, (consulté le 05/12/2016).

Tedeschi Filho W., Dezzotti NRA., Joviliano EE., Moriya T., Eli Piccinato C., (2012) Influence of High-heeled shoes on venous function in young women. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 56(4) :1039-1044.

Yung-Hui L., Wei-Hsien H., (2005) Effects of shoe inserts and heel height on foot pressure, impact force, and perceived comfort during walking. Applied Ergonomics. 36(3) :355-362.


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