woman and high heels

Experts recommend that healthy adults take approximately 10,000 steps per day. With that many steps in our daily routines, shoe choice is important. Improper footwear can lead to pain and discomfort all day. Women, more often than men, are selecting footwear options that are fashionable, but can lead to discomfort and long term foot conditions. Orthopaedic surgeon and foot and ankle specialist, Stephen F. Conti, MD,  shares some insight into women’s shoe choices.

What are the worst types of shoes for your feet?

The worst types of shoes are the ones that do not fit your feet. For example, if you have a wide foot but wear narrow shoes, then over time, you’re likely to develop problems.

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Wearing ballet flats is fine for my feet, right?red flat shoes

Ballet flats are fine, but remember that they aren’t really shoes in the sense that they don’t support your foot. If you have foot problems that require support, then ballet flats would not be recommended because they do nothing more than protect the soles of the feet.

What are some of the most common foot problems caused by wearing high heels?

The most common foot problems caused by very high heels have to do with the toes. High heels force the ball of foot into the narrow part of the toe. This results in the toes being crushed, which can lead to bunions and hammertoes.

Are shorter heels better for your feet than higher heels?

high heels

Generally, the lower the heel, the less stress it puts on your feet. Studies have shown that staying with a heel under one and a half inches is better preferred over than anything higher.

Is it possible to wear high heels and avoid foot pain and other problems?

Consistent, long-term high-heel shoe wear is most likely going to lead to foot problems, particularly with the toes.

What is your best shoe-related advice?

If possible, try to spend most of your time in a well-fitting, low-heeled shoe. Moderation is key when it comes to fashion shoe wear.  A night on the town every once in a while with your favorite pair of high heels probably isn’t going to do much harm. However, wearing a pair of three-inch heels to the office every day is not advised.

About UPMC Orthopaedic Care

As a national leader in advanced orthopaedic care, UPMC treats a full range of musculoskeletal disorders, from basic to complex. We offer treatments for both acute and chronic conditions. Whether you have bone, muscle, or joint pain, we provide access to UPMC’s vast network of services for both surgical and nonsurgical treatments. UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside appears on U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the top hospitals in the country for orthopaedics. We strive to use the most advanced treatments. We are leaders in research and clinical trials, seeking even more cutting-edge tools and techniques.