Viral Barbie Feet Challenge May Bring Harmful Results, Experts Say

Barbie's pink paradise has taken over the nation, and along with Barbie's pink life came a trending foot challenge. When Margot Robbie – AKA Barbie — stood on her tiptoes after getting out of her sparkly pink heels, many decided to replicate their own versions on TikTok calling it the "Barbie Feet Challenge."

Although mimicking Barbie's tiptoe challenge may not be harmful at first, Direct Care Physicians of Pittsburgh and member of Allegheny County Medical Society Emily Scott says repetitive attempts, and eventually, ailments like bunions, neuromas, and stress fractures, are possible, especially for those who are not accustomed to walking with their weight on their toes.

"Wearing high heels for prolonged periods can lead to an increased risk of developing a multitude of foot problems such as hallux valgus or 'bunions,' tailors bunions, hammer toes, stress fractures particularly while wearing heels higher than 3 inches, plantar fasciitis, and Morton's neuromas, which is a painful compression of the nerves that run between your toes," says Scott.

Wearing high heels for an extended time can result in degenerative foot problems and persistent walking discomfort in later life, even if they may seem stylish on special occasions.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Robbie held onto a bar for support while filming and taped her heels to the ground. Many people doing the challenge on TikTok don't, increasing the risk of ailments.

Scott continues that short-term use of high heels is usually only harmful to your health if you have pes planus, pes cavus, bunions, a history of stress fractures, or plantar fasciitis. Long-term use of high heels might raise your chance of developing a variety of foot issues.

If you want to continue wearing heels, no matter what the risks may be, Scott recommends practicing distributing your weight onto the heel more than your toes.

The higher the heel, the more difficult it is to distribute your weight off your toes and onto your heels. Make sure to maintain a good range of motion in the ankle by bringing the foot up, also known as dorsiflexion. This will prevent injuries such as Achilles tendinitis. Avoid high heels with a very narrow toe box which will squeeze your toes together even more, leading to an increased risk of hallux valgus, hammer toes, and Morton's neuroma.

- Scott

As a sports medicine physician and a runner herself, Scott recommends wearing low-heeled shoes that allow toes to have room to spread 99% of the time and avoiding excessive walking in high heels, and reserving high heels for special occasions. Aim for a wedge heel with a wider toe-box, and keep the heel to 2" or less.

In conclusion, if you must wear your pink stilettos, keep it to a few minutes of filming the "Barbie Feet Challenge" or walking into the theater to catch the new Barbie Movie!

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