Do High Heels Affect Knee Pain?

Photo: State Library of New South Wales

Yesterday I took advantage of the perfect, Spring weather to play in the backyard with my daughter, and we ended up pulling weeds. So much for playtime, but for a 2-year-old it counted as fun. I was careful, of course, about my body mechanics for back safety. But in the process, my knee started hurting (I do not have any knee problems). As a PT, my first thought was: “what exercise can decrease my pain?” I sat on the floor with my leg extended in front of me, and I gently pushed down on my knee (into a straight position; AKA knee extension) and repeated ten times. Unfortunately, it did not help.

Afterward, I decided to wear 3-inch wedge heel flip flops because they felt better on my knee than my flat ones. Without time to explore further exercises, I continued my busy day, of which the next activity was to take my kids to Monkey Joe’s for a birthday fiesta. Monkey Joe’s is the ideal playhouse for kids over age 3-4, but most of the bounce houses and slides are too big for my daughter, so I had to accompany her on all of them. By the way, if you ever do so, be sure to wear socks (I regret being barefoot on the slides)!

Amazingly, at the end of the day, my knee no longer hurt! There are two possible explanations: my heels or my activity level at Monkey Joe’s. Please understand that I would not usually recommend someone to do that much climbing when experiencing knee pain because it usually aggravates the knees. But one of those factors or the combined effect was surprising for my condition. Remember that my heels were not excessively high nor thin but a wedge. Also, my knee pain was mild and new. Chronic or recurrent knee pain likely would not respond the same way.

What is your experience with wearing heels and knee pain? Please share in the comments section for everyone’s benefit!

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I am a Physical Therapist and Ergonomics Consultant, based out of Columbia, SC. My passion is to write about and speak about pain/injury prevention. I started Pain Talks as a consulting business in 2018.

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