Why You Should Avoid Summer’s Hottest Trend: Barbie Feet

Posted: Aug 02nd 2023
Categories: Podiatry


While her pink world may be fun, suffering from foot and ankle injuries is not. Podiatry experts are warning against a social media challenged dubbed the “Barbie Foot Challenge” that is quickly gaining popularity. In the challenge, participants step out of a pair of heels without using their hands and take a step on their tiptoes, replicating the doll’s arched feet.

What’s the Risk?

Experts say doing the challenge once for fun is ok, but continually walking on your tiptoes, also known as “toe walking”, can have serious consequences. Toe walking is a condition commonly seen among children, and most will outgrow the condition and begin walking normally by the age of 2.

Older children and adults who still toe walk may do so out of habit or because the tendons and muscles in their calves have become tight over time. Toe walking over long periods of time can lead to muscle imbalance in the core and hips, making them weaker due to bad posture. It can also cause poor balance from tight ankles, which can lead to frequent falls and sprains or fractures.

Although the “Barbie Foot Challenge” is trendy, it can lead to a variety of foot problems such as sprained ankles, pain to the ball of the foot, and Achilles issues. I suggest refraining from the challenge and wearing pink to support Barbie instead!

Sara Davidovich, DPM, Podiatry, Foot & Ankle Surgery

Metatarsalgia, a condition where the ball of your foot becomes inflamed and painful, can happen if you maintain Barbie-like feet for too long. Another risk is injuring the Achilles tendon, which can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness along the back of your heel and ankle.

Many people also believe that toe walking in the challenge is similar to wearing high heels, only it isn’t. Wearing heels adds support to your feet, while standing in the “Barbie arch” places strain on your body.

Feet First: Keeping your Feet Healthy

Like all parts of our body, our feet need attention too. Our feet experience a lot of wear and tear, and neglecting to care for our feet can lead to foot problems that impact our quality of life. Practicing proper foot care can help ease pain, improve your mobility, and keep your feet looking and feeling fantastic.

First and foremost, you should always be wearing comfortable, proper fitting footwear. Not only is it painful, ill-fitting shoes can cause corns, callouses, blisters, ingrown toenails, deformities such as hammertoes, and even irreversible nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy.

Keep your feet clean by washing them regularly, trim your toenails, and moisturize your heels to prevent dry, cracked skin. Stretching your feet daily can help you improve flexibility, increase range of motion, reduce risk of pain, injury and common foot conditions like plantar fasciitis.

Maintaining a healthy weight is also important to your foot health, as being overweight increases the risk of arthritis and can worsen pain from existing foot problems. It also heightens the risk of diabetes, which causes numbness or loss of feeling in your feet. When you have diabetic feet, you may not notice when you have a cut or ulcer on your foot, which can get infected and require immediate medical attention.

When to See a Podiatrist

If you or a loved one are experiencing pain or notice changes in your feet or ankles, seeing a podiatrist can help. Podiatrists, or foot doctors, specialize in diagnosing and treating foot, ankle and lower extremity conditions.

Our podiatrists provide the highest quality care and use the most advanced technology and treatment methods available. We treat the whole person, not just their condition, and customize a care plan to meet each individual’s needs. To schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified podiatrists or to learn more about our podiatry services, call 716-458-1988.