Why High Heels Are Bad for Your Health

Bare heels

High heels may be pretty, but that doesn’t mean they’re harmless. ‘Beauty is pain’ goes the adage. You still shouldn’t have to suffer from bad shoes. This article examines which shoe is best for you based upon your lifestyle and activity level. It also looks at how much time you can safely spend wearing high heels.

The worst for wear

The Orthopaedic Associates of New York’s recent research concludes that the worst shoes for a woman’s feet have a high and skinny heel (sometimes called ‘needle’ heels). They’re so bad because the majority of your body’s weight rests on the ball of your foot, where your toes are. This puts much of the pressure on one point. Your knees and hips roll forward, affecting the body’s general balance and causing a deterioration of the health of your legs and back. Wearing this style of shoe can cause harm to everywhere between your ankles and your lower back.

Love platform shoes? Popular or not, these also compromise your body. Despite the commonly held belief that the weight is equally spread along the whole foot, it’s simply not true. Just as is the case with the tall and skinny heel, when you wear platforms, pressure is put on your toes – though the thick heel protects your feet a bit more. Don’t be fooled. Platform shoes can still produce their fair share of aching ankles, painful backs, calluses and bunions.

Sensible heels?

This weight imbalance causes your weight to shift, which, in general, will alter your posture. You’ll notice pain first in the joints of your ankles and many women are more likely to suffer from sprains if they often wear heels. Muscle contractions in your calves are highly uncomfortable and occur because the lower part of the leg contracts and shortens as it compensates for the weight that has moved forward.

The knee joints are next to tell you that they’re not coping well with all the extra work you’re asking of them. When you wear heels, the tension increases from the sole of the foot upward. Because you flex more than you would if you were barefoot, your quadriceps and anterior leg muscles are not balanced properly.

Need more persuasion to rethink your obsession with high heeled shoes? Over time, wearing them will maladjust the hip joint and increase lower back and back pain. In fact, they’ll completely change your posture. Bunions and calluses will appear on your feet. Your toes may begin to show some deformations, too, as a result of the swelling and pain that they endure day after day.

Red high heels

Infrequent wearing of heels (at special occasions, for instance) poses no problem. Just don’t make a habit of punishing your feet for countless hours every day. Avoid wearing them to work if at all possible. If you are unable to wear any other type of shoe at work, take along another pair with you so that you can change when you arrive and leave. Wear a comfortable pair for your commute and change into your high heeled shoes when you get there. If you have a desk job, you can slip them off whilst you’re sitting and put them back on if you’re attending a meeting or engagement that requires you to look more professional.

Surprisingly, the narrower the shoe, the fewer problems you’ll experience with the health of your feet. Material matters, too. Synthetic leather is your best option, if possible. Your toes will be immobilised and won’t move or slide about freely.

Images courtesy of Mervi Eskelinen, Jocely Saurini, Larry Johnson, Heather Dow, Maria Morri Thomas R Koll, Alison Here