High Heels And Your Health: Sexy, Sophisticated And...Bad For Your Body


High heeled shoes are a symbol of sophistication and sex appeal among many women in the United States. High heels are a staple item of dress for about half the women in the United States. Despite the dedication shown to high heels by their wearers, they are also a source of a number of physical ailments. Below is more information about what harm high heels can do to your body, and how you can prevent painful, debilitating problems by being proactive:

Foot and ankle pain

The most obvious problem caused by high heeled shoes is foot pain. In fact, the latest evidence indicates that among women the number one source of foot pain is the wearing of high heels, so the problem is widespread and serious. Specifically, high heels can cause several ailments in feet and ankles; here are a few of the most common:

  • Hammertoe - hammertoe is painful, disfiguring condition. It is caused by pushing the middle three toes into an abnormal shape; high heels compress the toes downward where they are forced into a bent position, and the muscles will shorten in response to the stimulus. That results in the characteristic hammer-shaped, crooked toe.
  • Nerve damage - the downward thrusting of the toes into the toe box of the shoe can also cause nerve damage. Such damage can lead to chronic pain and numbness in the feet.
  • Plantar fasciitis - this condition results in chronic, shooting pains in the bottom of a person's heel. High heels cause plantar fasciitis by overextending and stretching the tissue bundle that connects the toes and back of the foot.
  • Achilles tendon shortening - the Achilles tendon, which runs along the back of ankle and foot, is shortened over time when high heels are consistently worn. This shortening leads to mobility problems because the person is unable to fully flex their foot; a shortened tendon is also more susceptible to future injuries such as tears and sprains.

Back pain

The wearer of high heels is not only suspect to feet pain, but back pain is also a consequence from wearing them too often. High heels make the wearer lean forward while walking in order to maintain balance, and this causes a ripple effect up the legs, down the spine and into the muscles of the back. After a period of time, this can cause significant, painful back problems such as pinched nerves and spinal disc inflammation.

Knee pain

Another area of the body that can be permanently harmed by wearing high heeled shoes is the knee. The latest research on the effects of wearing high heels on the knees concludes that high heels are a source of premature aging of the knees and may even cause osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis results in the destruction of knee cartilage which serves to protect the ends of the bones; when the cartilage is gone, the bones can rub against each other and cause extreme pain. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, so the consequences are steep for wearing high heels in this regard.

How to keep your feet healthy

The best way to prevent injuring and crippling your body is to stop wearing high heel shoes altogether. However, if that isn't a realistic option for you, there are still several things you can do to control the potential damage:

  • Wear high heels only when necessary - if you wear them at work, try to wear more comfortable shoes on your commute and when you are sitting at a desk with your feet hidden.
  • Keep the heel height low - the lower you can keep the heels, the less likely you are to hurt yourself over the long-term.
  • Take time to exercise and stretch your feet - regular toe bends and stretching your feet with your hands can help keep the muscles and tendons pliable.
  • Visit your podiatrist - a foot doctor is able to help alert you to any potential dangers and evaluate your overall foot health. Consult with them on a regular basis to learn more about preventing damage from wearing high heels, as well as taking care of all your foot health needs.


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