Ever since the invention of the high heel, women have been falling head over…well, feet for them. But the high rates of falling when wearing high heels may not be worth the aesthetic benefits.
Heels change our center of gravity, forcing it higher and leaning us further forward. Because our center of gravity is not actually centered over our hips, knees, and ankles anymore, our natural balance is thrown off. This leads to trips, falls, and injury. The most common injury sustained from wearing high heels is an ankle sprain or strain.
In the 10 years between 2002 and 2012, reported incidences of injury from high heel falls nearly doubled to 8.83 per 100,000 emergency room cases. Women ages 30-39 suffered an above average number of falls with 11.07 per 100,000. And the 20-29 age group takes the cake with 18.29 per 100,000.
Surprisingly, almost half of these falls happened in the home. When your podiatrist tells you not to walk around the house barefoot, they don’t mean keep your high heels on all morning and evening. In fact, it’s best if you spend as little time as possible in high heels as they not only impact balance but also affect driving and can lead to foot and ankle issues such as hammertoes, bunions, neuromas, plantar fasciitis, pump bump (Haglund’s deformity), Achilles tendon tightness, and more.
Long-term wear also changes your muscle efficiency, foot positioning, stride length, and pace. The good news is, your feet will adjust back to their default over time as you stop wearing high heels, but it could take a while before you feel totally stable again. It seems like the majority of women now agree that the risks of heels may not be worth it. High heel sales were down 12% in 2017 with sneaker sales rising 37%.
If you love your heels, you can absolutely keep wearing them. Just know that you are at an increased risk of falling and injuring your foot and ankle when you wear heels. Try carrying a pair of flats for driving, walking long distances, and changing into after a long day or night.