Are high heels bad for your health? Two experts review the evidence

Max Barnish, Heather May Morgan

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


The answer to the question: “Are high heels bad for your health?” may seem obvious to some. There is copious research into the manifold ways that high heels affect their wearers’ well-being, but it is highly fragmented, often focusing on specific health issues. Plus, there is also research that shows benefits to wearing high heels. We decided to take the many factors involved in high heel health into account and conduct the first systematic review of research into both the benefits and harms of high heel wear.

We identified 506 individual studies on the issue of high heels and health, screened 27 of them and included 20 publications in our evidence synthesis. Our findings, published in the journal BMC Public Health, showed consistent evidence linking high heel wear to an increased risk of bunions, musculoskeletal pain and injuries to the wearer. Some of these injuries, such as ankle fractures, were serious and required hospital attention.
Original languageEnglish
VolumeBusiness + Economy
Specialist publicationThe Conversation
PublisherThe Conversation UK
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Max Barnish has received no funding for this work or any related work, but participated in the 2016 petition to the UK Government raising awareness around issues related to high heel wear at workplaces and the law.

Heather May Morgan's research is funded through external grants made to the University of Aberdeen. This work was unfunded.


  • public health
  • high heeled shoes
  • social norms
  • dress codes


Dive into the research topics of 'Are high heels bad for your health? Two experts review the evidence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this