Feet, Lifestyle, Physiotherapy

High Heels – The Pain for the Gain

High-heeled modelLove them or loathe them high heels have a marked effect on how a woman stands and moves and most men will know that these effects can often be quite alluring.

High heels:-

  • Increase the curvature of the calf improving muscle definition and in doing so enhance the slimness of the ankle
  • By lifting the heel the buttock muscles have to work harder and in doing so appear more pert.
  • The shift in weight means the chest is pushed forwards thereby enhancing breast lines.
  • The general awkwardness of the revised gait means that swings, sways and jiggles are introduced that tend to attract extra attention.

Xray of High HeelsHOWEVER!!  . . .

as can be seen in the X-ray of a foot in high heels, there are other factors to consider that not only cause pain during and after wearing, but can also cause long term damage.

  • Metatarsel pressureThe pressure on the Metatarsals  (the long bones just behind the toes or balls of the feet) is increased enormously. This increased pressure increases the risk of the development of a ‘Morton’s Neuroma’, (nerve aggravation between the metatarsals) which develops into a nerve growth.
  • Toe Squash in high heelsIf you compare the ultimate healthy state of barefeet it is easy to see how the toes are  pushed together to fit into the ‘glamorous’ narrow shoe, increasing the likelihood of Bunion formation ( Hallus valgus) and an overall cramping and deformation of the foot results.
  • Achilles tendonThe Achilles Tendon is shortened and prolonged wearing will cause permanent change which in turn changes the foot ankle dynamics and increase risk of ankle sprain and tendon damage.
  • The increased arch often affects the lower spine, increasing joint pressure that can cause episodes of back pain and instability.

So…. a physio’s advice (who has been known to wear high heels herself from time to time)  is to keep the really high heels for very special occasions!   Choose lower heels when you can. Keep this in mind when shopping girls!!

After a night in heels spend a few days in flats – or even barefeet if you can.

If heels are part  of the work attire, wear flats to and from work and slip on the glam’ professional look only when necessary.

Girls… remember it was a man who designed high heels and back in the times when men did wear heels they were not 15cm high and definitely not stilettos but wedges which are a more stable option!!!

Post by Catherine Stephens B. App Sc (Physio) MAPA.

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