High Heels Today, Foot Pain Tomorrow
Women's Poor Shoe Choices Lead to Foot Pain Later in Life
WebMD News Archive
Sept. 29, 2009 -- Wearing high heels today may hurt just a little, but even
bigger foot pain may be in store later
A new study shows that people who make poor shoe choices early in life by
wearing unsupportive footwear like high heels, sandals, and slippers are much
more likely to suffer from foot pain in later years.
The study showed that men don’t experience the same type of foot pain as
women, largely because of the type of shoes men wear. Researchers say the
findings may help explain why women are much more likely than men to have foot
Foot and toe pain are among the top 20 reasons adults aged 65-74 visit their
physician, but researchers say relatively little is known about the causes of
foot pain in older adults. Previous studies on footwear and foot pain have been
small or based on people with a particular disease.
Causes of Foot Pain
In this study, published in Arthritis Care & Research,
researchers examined the effects of footwear choices early in life on foot pain
later in life in a group of 3,378 adults who participated in the Framingham
The participants were asked if they had pain, aching, or stiffness in one or
both feet. They also provided information on the types of shoes they wore
during the following age groups: 20-29, 30-44, 45-64, 65-74, and 75+.
Shoes were classified into three groups:
- Good: low-risk shoes, such as athletic and casual sneakers
- Average: mid-risk shoes, like hard- or rubber-soled shoes, special shoes,
and work boots
- Poor: high-risk footwear that don’t have support or structure, such as high
heels, sandals, and slippers
The results showed that 19% of men and 29% of women had generalized foot
pain on most days.
Women who wore good shoes in the past were 67% less likely to report
hindfoot pain than those who wore average shoes.
“While more research is needed, young women should make careful choices
regarding their shoe type to avoid hindfoot pain later in life, or perform stretching exercises to
alleviate the effect of high heels on foot pain,” write researcher Alyssa B.
Dufour, of the Boston University School of Public Health, and
Researchers found no link between foot pain and shoe choice among men,
largely because less than 2% wore bad shoes.