Hurts like Heel: How much does wearing high heels actually hurt?

Ladies, we all know heels aren’t the most practical of footwear. But that doesn’t make the struggle any less real, does it? Wearing high heels hurts, and men simply don’t understand just how much.

But where on the pain scale does high heel pain fall, and how does it compare to other common, uncomfortable afflictions? We made it our business to find out.

The women of the UK have spoken, and the official pain rating for wearing high heels is in. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is extremely painful and 10 is hardly painful at all, women placed high heel pain at an eye-watering 3. And the guys? Well, the male of the species has decided that high heel pain can’t possibly be that bad, placing it at a mildly uncomfortable 7. Ouch.

That’s quite the gap in opinions, proving that the age-old disagreement between men and women is still alive and kicking. If only there were a way to explain just how painful it can be…

High Heel Pain V.S Other Pain

Is high heel pain more or less painful than other common painful experiences? Our ladies have ranked them all, and here’s what we found.


The only types of pain that women say outstrips high heel pain are menstrual pain (2), childbirth (1) and breaking a bone (1). Men, on the other hand, have a very different idea of where these experiences fall on the pain scale.

They place childbirth at a much less painful 6, with menstrual pain at an easygoing 8. The only factor that both sexes agree on is breaking a bone, with men also placing this at an excruciating 1.

But what about what each gender thinks is equal to heel pain? Women put high heel pain on the same level as the highly uncomfortable and persistent hell that is toothache, both scoring a level 3. They also rank the experience of breaking up with a partner at the same level.

And men? They agree on the toothache front, but let’s not forget that they rank both toothache and high heel pain at a much less painful level 7. Men do, however, consistently view breaking up with a partner as a more painful experience than high heel pain and toothache, ranking it at a moderate level 5.

So perhaps men are a little more sensitive than women give them credit for? It’s possible, though men do also think that biting your tongue (4) and back pain (3)  is even more painful than a relationship breakdown, so don’t get excited, ladies.

Unsurprisingly, men rank one particular painful experience as worse than all others apart from breaking a bone, and that’s getting kicked in the groin. Men place this at an eye-watering level 2, whereas women place it at an easygoing 8.

There’s a definite pattern here. It’s clearly not just men who underestimate the pain struggles of the opposite sex, where this has always been the traditional stereotype. Women, too, think that men lay it on thick when complaining about the physical pains they go through.

So is it time for men and women to recognise and appreciate each other’s plight? Or is it simply a case of agreeing to disagree? Most men will never truly appreciate the agony that wearing high heels can cause, and certainly not the agony of giving birth. And, equally, a woman will never truly know quite how painful getting kicked in the groin can be for a man.

At least we can all agree on one thing: breaking a bone is the ultimate king of pain.

A Sense of Occasion?

OK, so men and women will never agree on just how painful wearing high heels can be. But what about the occasions for wearing heels?

For some women, not wearing heels for certain occasions is tantamount to treason. Men, on the other hand, traditionally take a much more relaxed approach to such sartorial rules.

So we asked the UK’s men and women to tell us which occasions are heel-worthy, and which aren’t. Women told us which occasions they wear heels to, and men told us which occasions they think heels are appropriate for.

This should be interesting…


It seems that men and women generally agree that wearing heels is appropriate for a night out in the city, with 66% of women saying they wear them for this occasion and 65% of men agreeing that heels are a good shout.

It is a similar story for job interviews, with 52% of women saying they’d wear heels and 50% of men saying they feel this is appropriate.

Perhaps slightly surprisingly, there is a little less agreement on appropriate footwear for a wedding. A whopping 88% of women say they would definitely wear heels for this type of event, the highest score for the ladies, but only 70% of men saying they think heels should be worn here. Perhaps this is because men are tired of giving their other halves piggy backs through the car park at the end of the evening?

And it seems that the workplace is another area where opinions differ. Interestingly, despite 50% of men thinking women should wear heels for a job interview, only 2% of men think they should continue wearing them for a normal day at work. It might be down to a common view that interviewees of any gender need to impress at an interview and make more of an effort, whereas a regular day at work doesn’t call for the same level of effort. Or perhaps it is simply a view that heels might prove too impractical for an entire day of work, due to the pain factor. Only 13% of women say they wear heels for a regular working day, so perhaps the practicality factor is winning out here after all.

Gain Without Pain

High heels are always going to be a topic over which men and women disagree; it’s a classic bone of contention after all. But there is a middle ground to be reached. Not all high heels are painful to wear; in fact, there are some that are crafted especially for long-lasting comfort. Where? Gabor.

Larah Hunt, marketing manager at Gabor, says: “We believe that women shouldn’t have to choose between beautiful high heels and comfort; they should be able to get both at once. All of our shoes are crafted using the latest comfort technology to ensure us girls can wear the shoes we want without worrying about foot pain ruining the occasion.”