Putting your high heels on

What High Heels will do to your feet, and how to avoid it

High heels are a fashion essential. Very few women can look in the shoe cupboard and not find at least one pair of high heels. Unfortunately, these fashion essentials can cause enormous damage, not only to our feet, but our entire skeletal system. First, let’s have a look at the havoc they can cause, and then try and find ways to minimise the damage, and protect you from long-term pain and suffering.

The Damage High Heels Cause

Lest you think it is only the feet that suffer when you wear high heels, think again!

  • High heels cause the ankle to bend forward. This causes shortening of the calf muscles and tightening of the Achilles tendon. If they are worn too often for too long, this can actually cause pain when barefoot, as the tendon and muscles shorten permanently.
  • Restricted blood flow to the lower leg and foot creates spider veins. No matter how great your calves look in heels, spider veins will kill that vibe!
  • Osteoarthritis in the knees can be cause or aggravated by the increased pressure put on the knees – like spider veins, swollen knees will kill the vibe of that short skirt instantly!
  • Misalignment of the spine, causing lower back, hip and leg pain is the result of the body having to sway forward to remain balanced
  • Twisted ankles are common in high heel wearers – who hasn’t taken a tumble on uneven ground thanks to those gorgeous stilletos?

So, what about the damage these shoes can do to your feet?

  • High heels cause the bulk of your weight to be placed on the ball of the foot. This can cause bunions, hammer toes and pinched nerves like Mortons Neuroma. Not to mention pain!
  • Because the foot is angled, it tends to slide forward in the shoe, causing ingrown toenails. Way to ruin a good pedicure!
  • Stress fractures in the small bones of the foot can be very painful and slow to heal (excuse the pun!)
  • Heel spurs, calcium buildup on the bone of the heel can make it painful to walk

So, after all that, are you convinced? No? Just can’t give up those gorgeous nude peep toes? Well, the good news is, there are some things you can do to reduce the pain an damage you are doing to your feet with those heels.

  1. Ensure your shoes fit correctly. The size of feet your feet changes over time. And different brand and styles of shoes can mean the difference of a half – sometimes even a full – size. So make sure they fit. And when they start to stretch too much, out they go. You might love them dearly, but they will cause problems if they are not fitting you properly any more. And, hey, upside. Who doesn’t love an excuse to go shoe shopping?
  2. Try and go for chunky heels, or even better wedges. These give you more stability when walking, reducing the likelihood of turned ankles (not to mention embarrassment). Save those stilletos for times when you won’t be standing or walking for any length of time.
  3. Look for shoes with solid soles – even a slight platform. Again, these will give your more stability in that vitally important ball of your foot.
  4. Shoes that ‘hold’ your foot – like boots, or sandals with ankle straps – are best. Again, it’s all about support.
  5. Invest in gel shoe inserts. Metatarsal pads that sit in the shoe at the ball of your foot will help absorb some of the weight, reduce the risk of slipping forward and protect your toes from blisters.
  6. Commute in flats. Save the high heels for when you most need them. Walk to the bus, train or office in flats and change when you get there. Your feet will thank you, and you will get there faster too!
  7. Mix it up. Try and ensure you have shoes of varying heights and styles and rotate them through the week, so that your feet are not always at the same angle. Even better – aim for a day or two of flats if you can.
  8. Before you slip those high heels on, give your calves a good stretch to avoid the shortening and tightening of your calf muscles and Achilles tendon. This is particularly important for those who wear them regularly. Give another good stretch at the end of the day too.
  9. Slip them off. Take a break from the shoes when you can. Rotate your feet, point the toes and then pull them back towards your shins. Try and do this at least once during the day. And at the end of the day, try and give them a brief massage to restore good circulation.
  10. Last, but not least, visit a Podiatrist regularly to make sure none of the structural issues we have talked about are developing.

If you are a lover of high heel shoes, or if you just have concerns about your foot health, call our Baulkham Hills Clinic on 9639 7337 and make an appointment with our highly qualified Podiatrist. Not only will she make sure your feet are healthy and strong, but you may bond over those cute red boots you love!

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