‘Killer Heels’ Cause More Than Just Pain

PITTSBURGH (CBS) – Whether sparkly or a nude pump with red bottoms, fashion blogger Ellen Flowers lives in her heels.

“I’ve always loved high heels. I don’t feel like myself until I have high heels on,” said Flowers, founder of theperennialstyle.com.

Her Instagram account charts her love affair with beautiful shoes. For her, the taller, the better, even if it means heightened pain. The top offender is her favorite pair of flattering nude heels.

“They are so painful, but they’re absolutely beautiful. It’s totally worth it. Sometimes beauty hurts,” she said.

Any heel-obsessed woman has uttered the phrase: “beauty is pain.”

But should beauty hurt?

“No, absolutely not,” said Dr. Sarah Kennedy, emphatically.

The orthopedist on the medical staff at Texas Health Arlington Memorial says we should never normalize pain. If foot pain is persistent, you should see a doctor.

For Marlene Lacy, beauty was hurting. The nurse, who has been wearing heels since she was 15-years-old, was waking up to a sharp, stabbing pain in her feet.

“My feet were hurting so bad. I had plantar fasciitis,” Lacy said.

That painful condition can be caused by shoes that don’t offer the right support.

Those pretty heels, can lead to some really ugly problems.

“Just within three to five years of wearing heels, you can get the hammer toes, bunions or neuromas, all of which can lead to surgery,” Dr. Kennedy said.

According to the Spine Health Institute, when you wear a one-inch heel, the ball of your foot is carrying 22 percent of your weight. At two inches, it is carrying more than half of you – 57 percent of your weight. Add another inch, and it is supporting more than 76 percent of you.

Wearing high heels also throws your body’s alignment out of whack.

“When you have your pelvis tilted forward, everything’s off line. Your muscles have to work harder to keep that posture, and that’s why you’re exhausted by the end of the day,” Dr. Kennedy said.

Experts suggest that if you have to wear heels, limit the time you spend in them to no more than three hours. Try to stick to a two-inch heel and make sure you alternate with a variety of shoes that provide good arch support.

Dr. Kennedy said one particularly popular and flattering style should be avoided: pointed-toe shoes.

“They smoosh your toes together, causing more nerve problems and deformities like hammer toes and bunions,” she said.

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You should also shop for shoes in the afternoon, when your feet are at their largest.

Lacy couldn’t give up her heels. She lost weight to alleviate the pressure on her feet, and the pain from planter fasciitis. She now also follows Dr. Kennedy’s advice to stretch before slipping her heels on.

“Thirty pounds [down], and now I’m in my little heels,” she said proudly.

As for Ellen, her job is to look great, but she also looks for comfort. She often chooses a wider heel that offers more stability.

“They’re super comfortable. They provide more support and pretty much every designer is rolling out this shoe,” she said.

Still, she said, her high heels, are meant for walking.

“I am a little worried about how my feet are going to feel 20 years from now, but right now, it’s a risk I’m willing to take,” she said.


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