Are high heels really that bad for your feet?
For centuries women have been wearing high heels, one of the greatest accessories– but the harsh reality is these killer heels are killing much more than we think. Those perfect pairs of heels, although stylish, have the potential to generate long-term complications.
Fashion has the tendency to take precedence over an individual’s well being especially since high heels are believed to exemplify femininity, beauty and elegance. Prolonged use of high heels is considered one of the biggest factors predisposing women to foot problems that may become long-term and difficult to manage.
The reason behind intense pain and long-term irreparable damage is because high heels alter the natural alignment of a woman's foot and the way in which it functions. The x-ray shows the calf muscles overworking, the bones and ligaments under abnormal stress and the entire body weight shifted forward to the ball of the foot.
The following are a few common foot ailments that can result from high heels:
- Ball of foot pain - Callus and corns - Bunions
- Hammer toes - Achilles shortening - Neuromas
- Ingrown toe nails - Stress fractures - Blisters
I personally only slip on a pair of heels when I am heading out for the night or on special occasions, however, any other time, I am all about comfort. I must admit that there is something about wearing heels that provides a woman with a certain confidence and increases their sense of femininity- but this all comes at a cost. My use of high heels has generated some discomfort in the past, but my choice of heels has gradually improved over the years. I still love my heels but now i am more sensible when it comes to wearing them and value the well-being of my feet over the perception or look that is associated with them.
Below is the footwear pyramid adapted from the food pyramid indicating mostly, occasional and rarely footwear choices.
“Give a girl the correct footwear and she can conquer the world.” – Bette Midler
As the pyramid demonstrates we woman do not need to entirely give up our much-loved heels; we just need to choose a little wisely before forcing our feet into uncomfortable shoes in the name of fashion.
To prevent setting yourself up for long-term issues here a few tips to keep in mind:
- Footwear Choice: Choose sensible shoes with a low heel - as a general rule of thumb, keep to a heel with no more than 2cm-3cm in height and a wide heel base to evenly spread the load. An adjustable fixation and firm heel counter will provide added support by securing the foot in the shoe.
- Correct Fit: Ensure that your heels are the right size – snug enough so that the foot does not slide forward and wide enough to accommodate your toes.
- Insoles: The use of soft cushioning insoles reduces the pressure on the forefoot and heel.
- Alternative footwear: Change your footwear throughout the day so that you are minimizing the amount of time spent wearing your high heels - give your feet a break.
- Stretching: Carry out calf stretches to eliminate any muscle tightness and maintain ankle flexibility.
Taking these suggestions into consideration will keep you one step ahead.
And in the words of Oscar Wilde "Everything in moderation".