High-heeled Pain Forever — A New Study

Women’s Teeter-Tottering Pain

(2 Videos, 1 kinda funny)

Cartoon depiction of an elegant, hatted woman walking a dog, wearing high heels with the byline saying: "If high heels were so wonderful, men would be wearing them", attributed to Sue Grafton

“Do I really want to blog about silly shoes?”, I mused as I read an article about how women abuse themselves with high-heeled footwear.

Well, yes, actually I do, because all my adult life I’ve had a running commentary aimed at friends of both genders about the absurdity of women reaching high altitudes by crimping toes and elevating heels in stiletto high-heeled “shoes” that, as the cognomen (“stiletto”) reveals, are better designed as weapons than ambulation.

By and large, my male friends — appreciating the appearance of lengthened legs, eschew my protestations; whereas my female friends’ responses are uniformly more nuanced.  They, after all, must pay the price for whatever perceived benefits are derived.

For high-heeled wearing women, it’s often a love/hate relationship.

In Western culture, women start their shoe programming in the pre-teen years. There are plenty of role models. Mommy wears them, particularly when she dresses up (that’s what you do when you want to look good).  Then there’s the “tween” mags, and a bit later in life, the women mags, both showcasing the female winners of the genetic sweepstakes — properly swept digitally of all proximity to physical reality — with their impossibly long, sleek, airbrushed legs adorned with teetering, tottering heels.

The programming aspect is not lost on the women who wear these shoes.  Every unsteady step surely registers some question, perhaps deep down in the limbic brain, that asks:

“Why do I deform my toes and twist my ankles for some illusory idea of getting noticed, being liked, conforming, being wanted… what!”

Women know it can be painful.  What is less known, according to a recent study, is that wearing high-heeled shoes now may mean suffering foot pain later, even after those tall heeled beasts are retired.

(Data on specific areas of foot pain was identified in the nails, forefoot, hindfoot, heel, arch of the foot, and ball of the foot.)

In addition, one quarter of the participants report that wearing high-heel shoes had caused them generalized foot pain on most days. Even after adjusting for weight and age, researchers found an increased risk between having pain in the hindfoot and wearing such shoes.

Why then are most woman undeterred from wearing these foot-offensive shoes?

All behavior lies along a continuum of bad to good, crazy to sane, stiletto to sandal — and so is this.  And actually, “stiletto” shoes are not on one extreme end.  I’d put the former Chinese tradition of foot binding that lasted 1,000 years as the true extreme in this context.

For 1,000 years, Chinese girls of the upper class (or wanabes) had their feet bound, so that their growth was constrained, because it was thought that small feet were more beautiful, supposedly like a Prince’s consort’s feet should be.  The fact that feet are made for walking, and bound feet don’t, wasn’t part of the equation.  Conforming to a man-made sense of beauty was.

Well, we in Western Civilization in the 21st Century aren’t quite so crazy. We know that four-inch, cramped-toes red stilettos are sooo sexy. (Aren’t they??) “I’ll pay you $140 for that strip of cow hide, thank you!  Just don’t watch me walk in them.”  Good idea.

So, back to why I wanted to blog about this topic after all… I’m just perplexed about what humans will do to themselves in order to be accepted, wanted, loved.  (Hell, at least noticed!)

Perhaps my next blog post should be about piercing.


Last Updated on October 17, 2023 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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