The Risks of High Heels and How to Avoid Them

  • By Judith Sullivan
  • 28 Mar, 2017
Author/Blogger Reggie Simpson
01 Dec 2015

'Tis the season ... don't suffer

Whether you work in a formal environment or just have an eye for high fashion, you probably have at least one pair of high heels in your wardrobe. But how often do you wear them?

Many women choose to wear high heels every day for work, and then again at the weekend! This isn’t too surprising, considering they’re a natural confidence booster. They add height and the illusion of great posture, but they can also be detrimental to the health of your feet.

Which conditions could high heels cause?

There are a number of conditions that could occur as a result of high heels. Here are a few of the most common!


A bunion is a bone deformity located at the base of the big toe, causing the area to swell.

Bunions are significantly more common amongst women than men and are often associated with tight, narrow, high-heeled shoes. They can be very painful and may result in the need for surgery if not treated.

Muscle or joint ache

The human body was not designed for high heels, so when you wear them it has to compensate. This can often lead to aches and pains in the feet, legs and back.

With excessive wearing of high heels, women may even experience a shortened Achilles tendon, making it impossible to wear flats and causing more discomfort over time.

Foot pains

When you wear high heels, your weight will be balanced on the balls of your feet, putting an unnatural amount of pressure on the area – over seven times as much as when you’re wearing flat shoes!

This extra weight can result in inflammation or even neuroma, as well as corns or bent toes.

How to avoid these issues in the future

Due to the risks of wearing high heels, it’s safe to say that they are not the best footwear for everyday use. Instead, why not use your health as an excuse to shop for some stylish yet safe alternatives?

A sleek pair of black flats will do just the trick for work while a colourful or embellished pair will look great on the weekend.

If wearing heels really can’t be avoided – for example if you’re attending a party, wedding or important meeting where you’ll need to look your best – try to limit their wear for a few hours at a time. You may even wish to purchase a pair of foldable flats that will fit conveniently in most handbags.

As always, be sure to take care of your feet. Stretch and massage them as soon as you take off your high heels.

If you’re concerned about your footwear choices, get in touch with a podiatrist today. Beta Feet Podiatry will be able to give you professional advice on the best shoes for your feet.

By Judith Sullivan 18 Jul, 2017
Andre was an associate podiatrist at Betafeet for five months.  His contributions to the practice were considerable.  Sadly we lost him to a higher professional and personal calling.

After a stellar educational background and career, Andre joined babylon Healthcare Services, UK based, with a view to helping them set up and deliver the first digital healthcare pilot services to the NHS.   Digital healthcare is a cluster of new and emerging applications and technologies that exploit digital, mobile and cloud platforms for treating and supporting patients. Digital Healthcare is being applied to a  wide range of social and health problems, ranging from monitoring patients in intensive care, general wards, in convalescence or at home – to helping doctors make better and more accurate diagnoses, improving drugs prescription and referral decisions for clinical treatment.

Rwanda then beckoned.

Since joining babylon Rwanda in April 2016, Andre has been instrumental in successfully setting up and launching Africa's fastest growing digital healthcare service.  According to Lindsey McConaghy, babylon's PR manager, 'Rwanda has a population of around 12 million but doctor numbers are in the hundreds. There’s an imbalance between supply and demand'.  

Digital Healthcare is not without its sceptics nor controversies - at what point do you let an app do the diagnosis?  Will GPs embrace technology in this way?

Here is Andre's report about his experiences in Rwanda:  

Rwanda is a small ambitious country known as the land of 1000 hills with a population around 12 million and a rapidly growing economy. It has rolling hills for as far as you can see, a rain forest, gorillas and volcanoes, making for quite the site to any visitor. However, it is also known for the 1994 genocide in which over 1 million people were killed in 100 days across the country.

This tragic event has led to some very big health issues, which the country still faces, but thanks to a range of donor funding and strong political leadership, the country is on its way to quickly becoming a middle-income country.

As countries shift from low incomes to middle income economies, health issues become complex, where the country can face a mix of communicable disease (ie. malaria, HIV, TB) and the introduction of non-communicable disease (ie. diabetes, high BP, cholesterol) with changes in lifestyles.

Now you are probably wondering what this has to do with podiatry?

Well, as clinicians we play a role in the overall wellbeing of every patient that walks through our door for treatment and we become advocates for a number public health issues. While our specialist area is focused on the foot and ankle, an understanding of the bodily systems is imperative for understanding the impacts on the lower limb. This allows us to transition from clinical practice to other work streams such as health policy, public health programmes, service management and research.

As a podiatrist with a public health background, the increase of diabetes and chronic conditions in developing nations has become of personal interest. In many of these countries, diabetes is poorly understood and without proper prevention and care, can lead to a large economic burdens on the healthcare system. In 2012, the UK alone spent a whopping £639 million on foot ulcers and £662 on lower limb amputations, so the prevention and monitoring of these conditions is of paramount importance in the developing world.

The quality of life for individuals with diabetes is also drastically affected if not controlled, impacting mobility, footwear and overall lifestyle. Additionally, chronic ulceration and limb amputation, creates an increases risk (approximately 80%) of mortality within the first 5 years post amputation.

How did all this lead me to Africa, I hear you say?

In April of 2016, I (sadly) departed from the Betafeet clinic to implement an mhealth project in Rwanda in partnership with the Ministry of Health. This project, allows patients across the country to speak with a doctor and receive a prescription via SMS through their mobile phone, reducing the travel time, wait time and expense of receiving care from one of the local physical hospitals. The system is also working on monitoring both communicable and non-communicable disease using artificial intelligence, engaging patients to take ownership of their health.

This could be a major milestone for a country with stretched resources. To put things into perspective, over 80% of the population lives in remote areas of the country and works in the ‘in-formal’ sector as subsistence farmers with an average income of 2-3 dollars per day, which is not very much. To receive care, a patient may travel over an hour to reach their nearest hospital where a doctor is present and then wait anywhere from a few hours to a few days to receive the care they need. However almost 80% of the population already has a mobile phone.

Appropriate access to clinical care is a large part of the prevention and management of many conditions and undertaking this project has been a great experience. As a clinician, I have had the opportunity to utilise my knowledge to develop operational pathways and input into the technology development to shape the way patients receive their care. 


It is with this experience I now look to move on to my next adventure focusing on Aboriginals and the utilisation of technology in the prevention of major non communicable disease such as diabetes.

Final comment from Reggie Simpson and Betafeet Podiatry

 We wish Andre the very best in his future and thank him for this interesting blog account.  We look forward to his next blog focused on his work with the Aboriginal population.  

By Judith Sullivan 12 Jun, 2017
By Reggie Simpson
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