More Than Just Your Feet: 5 Things High Heels are Hurting

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It was Cinderella that said “one shoe can change your life”, but we don’t think wearing only one shoe would help your posture much, either. Dr. Grace Walker, physical and occupational therapist and nutritionist, can agree that the right shoe can change your life.

High heels have been one of the biggest trends in women’s fashion. For good reason to; we can’t deny what a beautiful pair of shoes can do! To anyone who has worn a pair of high heels and experienced the discomfort, it’s probably not much of a surprise how hard they can be on your body. They affect the lower extremities (feet, ankles and legs), and also a few other areas that might surprise you.

  • Ankles Injuries: First, let’s review what might be the most obvious. High heels are more prone to accidents. It’s hard to deny that when you’re walking on miniature stilts all day. The lack of surface area and balance in high heels make accidents more likely. A sprained ankle might be tangible, but did you know that knee and hip injuries are also possible? Since heels have very little support, recovering from a minor trip becomes a much more difficult task.
  • Deformities: The pointy shoe is cute and in style, but  you can’t say it’s comfortable. Shoes with a pointed toe cause issues such as hammer toe and bunions.
  • Heel Pressure: A three-inch heel raises pressure on the heel 75%. A one-inch heel raises heel pressure 22%. If you’re going to remain loyal to the oh-so-trendy heel, consider a pair that aren’t too high.
  • Muscle Shortening: Walking in high heels simulates walking up a hill. This causes an increased load on the calf and Achilles. Prolonged use causes the calf muscle to shorten and tighten to compensate. The result is increased stress along the plantar surface of the foot which can cause conditions such as plantar fasciitis.
  • Terrible Posture: While your posture might feel sexy and confident in those high heels, it’s probably too much. Normally the spine is an s-curve. This design is meant to act like a shock absorber. High heels drastically alter the curve in your back. The results in the chest being pushed out too far, the lower back being pushed forward (causing misalignment in the spine), and excess pressure on the knees.

If your body is starting to feel the effects of those heels, it might be time to give yourself a break! If you are committed to the heel-life, consider less height and work a calf stretch into you daily routine.

At Walker Physical Therapy and Pain Center, we specialize in injuries from head to toe including balance and jaw pain. For a consultation from one of our expert physical therapist, call us at (714) 997-5518.


Walker Physical Therapy and Pain Center

1111 W. Town and Country Rd., Ste. 1

Orange, CA 92868

(714) 997-5518

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3 Tips to Improve Great Toe Mobility

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Dr. Grace Walker, Physical and Occupational Therapist and Nutritionist shares 3 tips from Russ Manalastas, injury zone blogger, on how to improve great toe mobility

Democrat & Chronicle, Russ Manalastas, injury zone blogger  9:04 a.m. EDT August 27, 2015

Many runners are well aware that the foot/ankle area is important for a runner. It initiates contact with the ground and is important for the launch-off phase of running/walking to set you in motion

However, the great toe is an area that often goes unattended. Most people are aware of maintaining proper mobility through the ankle, but the role the great toe plays during the launch-off phase of running can’t be overlooked, since a lack of mobility in this area can lead to other complications. This is why great toe extension is paramount!

Due to range of motion limitations in the great toe, the absence of great toe extension exercises can lead to the plantar fascia having to do more work during the launch off phase of running, which can lead to overburdening the tissue and causing irritation.

Normal range of motion in the great toe can be anywhere from 70 to 90 degrees, so anything that is less than that can lead to increased stiffness in the joint over time..


Tip 1

Check your mobility in your great toe by pulling up on the toe (foot on the ground) to see if you have any limitations. The key is to keep your other toes relaxed as there is a tendency to want to extend all the toes to gain any extra range of motion. This easy test should give you a good idea of whether or not you may need to work on regaining mobility.

Tip 2

Address soft tissue restrictions through the calf and also the bottom of the foot. Any increased restrictions or tightness through these areas may restrict your great toe from moving into end range extension.

Tip 3

PT Erson Religioso III recommends end range great toe flexion to help reset the great toe and to allow it to move into extension without trying to force that motion over and over again.


Russ Manalastas is a licensed physical therapist and clinical director for Lattimore of Spencerport Physical Therapy.


Call Walker Physical Therapy & Pain Center to make an appointment with one of our expert physical therapists!


1111 W. Town and Country Rd.

Orange, CA 92868

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