Let’s admit it, ladies. We abuse our feet. Your killer heels are killing much more than you think. Based on our desire to be fashionable, we often wear shoes that don’t fit well or are just not designed for walking and standing for long periods of time. One in 10 women wear high heels at least three days a week and a third have fallen while wearing them. Statistics show that high heels are one of the biggest factors leading to foot problems in women, with up to a third suffering permanent problems as a result of prolonged wear. Even Oprah admits that she only wears her highest heels once she’s seated during an interview.
There is an established connection between high heels and foot, ankle, knee, hip and back pain – the above 3-D scan of a female foot in a high-heeled shoe might make you rethink that new pair of Manolo Blahniks and Charles David. Jam these engineering marvels into high heels and. . .ouch – you’ve shifted much of your mass onto the balls of your feet and your tiny, delicate toe bones leading to pain, clawing of toes, ingrown toenails etc. The higher the heel, the bigger the impact. Walking in heels also stiffens your Achilles tendons. If you’ve had your tall pumps on all day, you might have trouble walking naturally when you first kick off your kicks. Over time, stiletto devotees can develop chronically taut (and shortened!) ankle and calf tendons, making walking—even in flats—painful. In addition, frequent high-heel use can put extra stress on the inner sides of the knees, fast-tracking the wear and tear that leads to osteoarthritis and hence knee pain. To keep from keeling over in stacked shoes, you have to thrust your hips forward, arch your back, and push out your chest. That familiar sexy stance works the outer hip muscles and tendons hard (and not in a good way). In order to sashay around in heels, your spine also needs to sway unnaturally resulting in a sore lower back.
It’s no wonder that those stilettos and peep-toes are causing us pain—they are designed for beauty, not comfort. But, don’t let your sense of style cripple your ability to stand or step pain-free. Your feet are, quite literally, your base of support. If your feet aren’t happy, nothing above them will be. Take a closer look at your shoe selection and take small steps now to prevent big foot problems later. Wearing a platform or a wedge is going to be a much better heel. In moderation high heels are fine. It is when worn day in day out that problems could develop. And if you still can’t live without your heels try and set your limit to two inches, don’t go for the pointed toe, stretch leg muscles before and after putting on high heels, buy a wide variety of shoes and vary your footwear day to day.
All in all, scary stuff. It’s nothing any health-conscious fashionista hasn’t heard before, but it makes us think. Maybe with the summer behind us, it’s the perfect time to take a break with some sandals or cute flats.