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High-Heeled Shoe Dangers for Runners

One of the first pieces of advice I give any new runner is in regards to shoes. I tell anyone who’s just starting out to go to a running specific store and to get fitted for a proper running shoe.

Many assume the name brand they got off the shelf at a major sports store is sufficient, but they are not. A properly fitted shoe can make or break a running career. One of the leading causes of running injury is due to improper footwear. Most runners accept this truth about shoes early on. However, one thing we don’t do is focus on the proper footwear when we’re not running.

I fall into the category of wearing expensive shoes while I run, yet I walk around in flimsy flip flops the rest of the day. Many office professionals spend the majority of their day in dress shoes. They look great, but may be the root cause of your next running injury- especially high heels.Of all the flawed footwear, high heels may be the most risky choice for a runner. Research points to the fact that runners who wear high heels may be at greater risk for foot, knee, or back injury.

High heels are honestly not a great shoe for anyone. They are the number on cause of ingrown toenails, they can lead to lower back pain, hip soreness, osteoarthritis, hammertoes, plantar fasciitis, dislocated toes, calluses, joint pain, bunions, and sprained ankles.

When a runner puts on their heels, she’s more likely to experience these problems and then some, as her feet are going through additional strain.


“If I wear heels all day and then I go running I can actually feel the bones in my foot stretching out afterwards because they’ve been compressed all day,” said Katie West, 27, a student, said at Northwestern.edu. “It hurts around the balls of my feet and I’ve noticed I’ve started to get a bunion from wearing pointy-toed heels.”

While running brings its own soreness and possible ailments, the heels just add insult to injury. As running will cause tightness in the legs and calves, wearing heels will cause even more tightness on top of that, potentially leading to injury. Heels can squeeze the toes and cause a neuroma, or pinched nerve, especially in people with flat feet. Running can aggravate a neuroma. Sensing a theme here? Heels hurt the body, running on these hurts will only make it worse.

Many women have just decided to ditch the heels all together. “I don’t like high heels, I just don’t wear them because they’re so uncomfortable,” said Roxie Semeniv, 20, an ice skater and student. “I run every day and my feet don’t hurt, but after I wear heels my feet are sore, my back hurts, it’s just a different kind of pain.”

For runners not willing to give up their pretty shoes, Podiatrist Rodney Stuck of Loyola University Health System says, “It’s not that you have to give them up completely, but limit your exposure.”

Simply put, runners need to be more cautious than the average heel wearer about how often they slip on their high-heeled shoes.

Also Read:

Yoga for Runners

How to Work Through Sports Injuries

What a Pain: Tips for Preventing Plantar Fasciitis

March 16th, 2012

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