Are High Heels Bad For My Health?
Are High Heels Bad for My Health?
Footwear was initially designed to protect and support feet. However, the fashion industry now generally influences buyers more than functionality. High heel shoes have evolved over the years and though not always comfortable, females have persisted in buying into this trend. Higher heels are therefore here to stay, whether it is a platform, stiletto or wedge heel shoe. This article will answer some frequently asked questions about high heel shoes
I wear high heels regularly and I have pain in the ball of my foot. What is happening?
This condition is called metatarsalgia and is essentially pain in the ball of the foot (the area on the sole of the foot just before the toes). The heads of the metatarsals (or long bones in the foot) are located in this area under a fat pad. This fat pad cushions and protects the bones. When wearing high heels, most of the body’s weight is concentrated on the ball of the foot, instead of being more evenly distributed across the sole of the foot. When excessive pressure is placed on the ball of the foot, the fat pad can thin out prematurely or shift position. Therefore, the bones lose their protection and are made to bear a substantial amount of pressure, which can result in pain.
I used to wear high heels all the time, now it is painful to wear flat shoes. Why?
While wearing high heels, the muscles in the calf are contracted, which is similar to being on tiptoe for an extended period of time. This causes the fibres that make up the muscle to become shorter. When we lower our heels from this tiptoe position, the calf muscles need to stretch to return to their relaxed state. After a prolonged time of being contracted, such as
wearing high heels regularly, muscles can become damaged, lose their flexibility, and therefore lose their ability to stretch as much as they did before. These persons are unable to get the amount of stretch needed to be in the relaxed position. They, therefore, can get pain that radiates into their heels when attempting to walk barefooted or in flat shoes.
Do high heels cause calluses and corns?
Corns and calluses are caused by an increase of pressure over any area of skin. The skin reacts by becoming thick, hard and sometimes discoloured. Since high heels push the body’s weight onto the ball of the foot, it naturally increases the pressures on the plantar surface of this part of the foot. As a result, persons are predisposed to corns and callus over the ball of the foot. Toes are also a very common area for corns and calluses, especially for those who wear enclosed higher heels.
Is a wedge heel better than a stiletto?
Though both these styles can cause detrimental changes in posture when the heel height is inappropriate, wedges are preferable to stilettos. With stilettos, the full body weight is pushed on the ball of the foot. However, with a wedged heel, there is support along the length of the shoe resulting in a more gradual distribution of weight. This is why wedges are generally more comfortable than stilettos.
Do high heels cause kidney damage?
There is no evidence that suggests that wearing high heels damages your kidneys; however, lower back pain in the anatomical region where the kidneys are located is common when wearing high heels. This is due to the change in posture when wearing high heels. The pelvis is tilted forward, therefore putting a compressive pressure on the lower back muscles and can potentially strain your spine.
What should I look for when buying high heels?
A maximum heel height of two inches in usually recommended. The correct length is important, but adequate width and depth around the toes, especially in enclosed footwear, should also be ensured. Enclosed footwear should follow the natural rounded shape of the toes instead of having a tapered front. There should not be any bony prominences seen when your foot is in the shoe. Any bulged areas indicate aspects of the foot taking high pressures and can result in corns and calluses. An adjustable strap across the instep also helps to secure the shoe to the foot and generally makes them easier to walk in.