The Time I Gave Up High-Heels

High-heeled shoes rip a dangerous divide between female athletes.

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On one hand, they are a woman’s secret to seriously sexy legs. They have an innate ability to take a tibia, fibia and a femur looks like graceful Roman columns, conjuring the oohs-and-ahhs of all onlookers. In fact, when they’re done right they can be pieces of artistic genius. Everything is taller, longer, sleeker and I’ll say it again…sexier. Plus, they were the inspiration for this cinematic gold:

Yet on the other side of the ring we have the cons (we all knew it was coming). From poor posture and shortened/tightened calf muscles, heels can lead to osteoarthritis thanks to bone-on-bone contact. Or if you want a visual slap in the face on how bad high heels are for you, check out this crazy 3D CT scanner video.

Regardless of the irrefutable data, I thought that almost a year after my ankle injury, maybe, juuust maybe, I could try heels out again. Up until last Wednesday, I had only worn them in photos at weddings before I had to rip them off because they caused so much pain on my injured foot. Thinking I would “ease” myself into heels again, I opted for some solid wedges and tromped around work all day, disregarding the pain and chafing.

Once again, whenever you think you can defy nature, you will surely be proven wrong. I did a small run the next morning and was plagued with pain on my outer left-leg for the remainder of the week. Going up and down stairs was difficult, but thankfully I had a chiropractor appointment already scheduled for that Friday.

Fast-forwarding to the results, we thinm that my injured ankle wasn’t (and may never be) ready for heels as the rest of my leg overcompensated and pulled some muscles on the femoral head. While it was mild, Coach Greg still recommended completely forgoing the weekend long run and resting my hamstring. And unlike last time, I went with nature and gave my leg complete R&R. Then a funny thing happened — it got better. Huh! Would you look at that?

So as I part, I’ll leave you all with advice that we’ve all heard, but I took one for the team so we could all be reminded of it: 1) Think before you put on those heels, and 2) Rest when your body tells you to, dammit.

Are you pro-heels?

Happy Running!

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33 Responses to The Time I Gave Up High-Heels

  1. Mr. Steve says:

    Seriously going to put a crimp in my nightlife!

  2. Man, I love heels! I am 5′ 3″ so take what I can! However 6 week out from my marathon and heels are not loving me – will need to get some wedges for work I think!

  3. Margaret says:

    I used to be all about heels (I’m 5′ even) – for almost six years at my post-college job I wore heels every. single. day.

    Then I realized that I’d been wearing barefoot/minimalist shoes for running for a while(not VVFs, shoe-shaped shoes like Vivo and Merrells – most important thing to me is zero drop and within a certain range of cushioning), because of my belief that it’s much healthier for my body, so why in the world was I subjecting myself to heels so much of the rest of the time!

    I now wear barefoot casual shoes to work, and flip flops most of the time casually (except for the rainy season, which, unfortunately is several months of the year – you’ll be experiencing that part of Portland soon :), well actually I wear flip flops in the rain a lot too), and am always barefoot at home. I used to think heels didn’t hurt my feet or legs at all, because I was used to them, now if I try to wear them (I still do occasionally for work, if I have a meeting I need to look spiffy for, or for other dressed up occasions), they’re not nearly as comfortable as I recall, which is kind of sad, they used to be my thing.

  4. Tyra says:

    I wear flat shoes to work – usually Hobes (it’s an Aussie brand, super comfy and completely flat!), but for special occasions I will wear super high heels. Good thing we don’t go out to fancy balls or weddings every week! I get a really weird feeling in my 5th metatarsal when I wear heels for too long (it always freaks me out). We generally walk everywhere, and walking with heels on is not fun!

  5. JJ says:

    No, I never wear them.

  6. That crazy how much damage they can do, I haven’t worn heels in a couple years. They just hurt too much, so I always go with flats, even for weddings, etc,.
    Glad to hear you rested and felt better!

  7. Anastasia says:

    I used to wear heels on a daily basis, but I had to give them up after a high hamstring tear. Now I only wear them for special occasions and only for short periods of time. I can honestly say that my feet and hamstring feel better now that I gave them up.

  8. J says:

    I love heels – but don’t wear them too much. At most I wear them 4x a week for work but I don’t have to walk too much at work. I stick to wedges and lower heels cause i can’t wear 3+ inch heels.

  9. I like the way heels look, but I don’t like the way they make my feet feel most of the time. Especially now that I’m marathon training, they are bad news. Unfortunately, I am a lawyer, so they’re a necessary evil sometimes. I am looking to invest in a really good, comfy pair of mid-height heels (maybe some Cole Haans wit h the Nike Air technology?) that I can wear without wanting to rip them off after 30 minutes. I think my Target shoe days are behind me. For now, though, I stick mostly with flats.

    • Amanda says:

      The Cole Haan Tali wedges are awesome. They have a pretty bow in the front and give a little height and extension to the leg. I have then in Nude which help elongate and in black. The Nude ones are great with short shorts or with a dress! And no, I don’t work for Cole Haan :) I just had to respond to this post because I want a heel without the pain and discovered these gems last year.

  10. Victoria says:

    Gave up heels for good 2 years ago, and haven’t looked back. I used to roll my ankles all the time, since then, never. WORTH IT.

  11. Naomi says:

    I stopped wearing heels a couple of years ago when I have plantars fasciitis and now my feet simply can’t take them. It makes for interesting work outfits. When I have to get dressed up for something fancy I usually bring the heels in my handbag and only wear them for photo ops.

  12. Lisa says:

    I don’t wear heals, except for a couple hours at Church on Sundays. I used to wear them a lot. Though after going minimal last year, (Brooks Pure, Kinvara etc…) I now wear everything flat, Sperry’s, Rainbow Sandals, Toms and the like are my favs. I’ve never been able to wear heels comfortably anyway and finally just gave them up for good. I still can’t bring myself to donate the old heels I loved, though.

  13. Emily says:

    I cut down on my heel wearing when I was pregnant and am having the hardest time finding a pair that doesn’t pinch my toes (I have super-wide feet) or flare up my plantar fasciitis. Maybe nature’s telling me something?

    I walk to work and wear flats while walking. Then I flip to my office heels when I get to my desk. Good think I haven’t ventured to the standing workstation craze yet!

  14. Courtney says:

    I’m going to a friend’s bachelorette this weekend and just gchatted her that I don’t think I can wear heels this weekend. I’m rehabbing an ankle injury and don’t wear heels much anyway. Luckily, she’s a sweet heart and totally okay with it! I have started commuting in sneakers because flip flops are just as bad for you! Le sigh. The things we do as runners :)

  15. Kristen L says:

    I will sometimes wear heels for special occasion, but I don’t like to walk very far in them. It is pretty crazy how bad they can be for your feet and legs.

  16. Alexia says:

    Watching that video literally gave me goose bumps of pain. I love, love, love high heels. However, as move more solidly into my 30s I realize that it might just NOT be worth it. I try to save heels for special occasions, occasions where I will mostly be seated. Great post.

  17. Colleen says:

    I love how heels look! But not how they feel. I really don’t wear them very often. Just for the occasional fancy dinner or other special occasoions. That’s a good idea to bring extra shoes and only wear the heels for the photos. I’ll have to do that for my sister’s wedding that’s coming up!

  18. Nicole says:

    I used to wear heels a lot but now I rarely do but that’s because I have a casual work environment and go to bed by 11 pm more Friday and Saturday nights (ok ok sometimes 9:30 pm). I do wear wedges which I actually find pretty comfy. When I do wear heels I usually end up with them in my hands by the end of the night – they are definitely NOT great for your feet that’s for sure! Good thing you are already tall so no one will even miss them on you :)

  19. Martha says:

    Welcome to my world of flat and borin.
    Mom shoes.

  20. Megan says:

    I used to be all about the power heels. 4 inch heels on marble floors standing all day. No problem. Now I’m typically in flats. Heels get reserved for events. Occasionally I will wear them to work, but they go on my feet when I arrive and are taken off when I leave. Unfortunately, my job is very sedentary, so my heels simply look on my seated body.

  21. Angela says:

    Yep, that’s what I’ve always been told. I was never a frequently heel wearer but used to go out in them maybe a few times a month. These days I do my best to try to ration the heel-wearing since I know it’s not great for me — I don’t wear them unless I really, really care, or try to strategically change in & out of them based on how much I’m walking / standing, whether there are pictures, etc. So I now I think I wear them maybe once every couple of months.

  22. Meghan B. says:

    Couldn’t agree with this advice more! My best friend is a PT and has been trying to drill this information into my head for years, but I didn’t start actually taking her advice until more recently. As someone with ridiculously tight calves to begin with, I can say not wearing heels has definitely helped loosen them up a bit which in turn has reduced my shin pain when I run! I LOVE heels, but now I reserve them for special occasions. I’m 5’9″ so I guess I don’t really need them anyways.

  23. Christa says:

    I can only wear wedges most of the time anyway, but especially now that I’m knocked up. I just love wearing them to work! But flats are my fav of course. I might switch to flats full-time and see how that goes – my calves have been killing lately!

  24. Shannon says:

    So, I used to live in heels, until breaking my ankle (and then breaking my other ankle a couple of years later, which came with other damage in my foot). Now I really can’t stand to wear them for very long – like you, I wear them in photos for weddings and for the ceremony, etc., but then they come right off and I switch to flats. It’s been 3 years since my injury, and I still have a tough time, so I’ve just resigned myself to only wearing them for short periods of time now, so I don’t aggravate anything that will keep me from a run.

  25. Jessica M. says:

    I started wearing flats after an IT band injury. I wear flats pretty much everyday to work and on the weekends. I wear my heels for weddings and special occasions but that’s about it. I wear flats so often that my coworkers were surprised to see me wear heels for my wedding day!

  26. XLMIC says:

    Running shoes are also sexy…right???

    Lurching around in heels doesn’t really work with my hip. And a limp isn’t sexy no matter how you slice it anyway :(

  27. megan says:

    I like heels but they have to have a chunky heel that way I don’t real like I’m gonna topple over. But I just don’t wear them enough either way. I’m also 5’9 and heels over 2 inches still make me a little self-consious!

  28. No heels. Can’t do it. I have a few pairs, can’t lie. But I only wear if I am not walking anywhere, and special occassions only. All my work pants and dresses must work with flats. :) Flats forever!!! (I’m also anti flip flop. They cause massive calf and shin pain for me.)

  29. erin says:

    I couldn’t tell ya the last time I wore heels. Months and months ago. Rest is magic!

  30. heels kill me. seriously. i have to tear them off after 1/2 an hour because they suck. Vegas in heels is a death trap. that was the last time I wore heels. i’m barefoot, flip floppin, sub one inch boot wearing girl fro now on. unless i need to look spiffy for 3 minutes and then i’ll wear heels, but no longer than that :) i’m think of selling some of the ones i have in the closet. . .

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