Wearing tight shoes causes discomfort, and myriad foot problems to accompany it. Bunions are bump deformities on the big toe joint that cause the big toe to lean toward the second toe (via ShareCare). And though the propensity to develop bunions is an inherited trait, wearing high heels can trigger them or make them worse, according to Harvard Health. With bunions being 10 times more common in women than in men, there does appear to be a link between footwear choice and the condition.
Hammertoe — when your toes bend downward permanently — can also result from wearing high heels (via Mayo Clinic). This can occur when your toes are so crowded they can’t lie flat, instead curling downward even when barefoot. Treatment options can be as simple as changing your shoes, or as serious as surgery. Some people may also experience Haglund’s deformity, when a bump forms on the back of your heel due to constant pressure (via Hackensack Meridian Health). This is common in those who wear high heels frequently, hence why it is known by the name of “pump bump.”
If you already have bunions or hammertoes, wearing heels can worsen your condition. Be sure to wear shoes that fit properly — high heels or not — and when buying a new pair, try them on in the afternoon, as that is when your feet are the largest, according to the The Spine Health Institute.