Most women have at least one pair of high heel shoes in their wardrobe, and many wear high heels every single day. But behind the stylish appeal lies a sinister risk to long term health, with more and more research pointing to the dangers of wearing these shoes.
High heel shoes are designed to point the toes down, putting the foot at an angle and loading it with the full weight of the body. This forces the foot, leg and back muscles out of alignment, causing damage to not only the delicate bones in the feet and muscles of the legs, but also to the lower back, and even up to the neck and shoulder.
According to the Spine Health Institute statistics, 72% of women wear high heels regularly, with 31% of women wearing them to work on a daily basis and 33% wearing them for going out dancing – quite high statistics for something which has the potential to cause long-term and lasting damage to the body.
How high heels affect you
Wearing high-heeled shoes frequently increases load on the toes, alters foot shape and walking patterns, can cause lordosis and has even been linked to shortening of the Achilles tendons and stride length.
But that’s not all, The American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society explains that other conditions caused by excessive wearing of high heels include:
The excessive pressure on the ball of the foot from high heels puts pressure on the metatarsal bones in the foot, creating a painful condition at the ball of the foot called metatarsalgia. Over time this can worsen and eventually cause a stress fracture in the foot.
2. Heel pain
Heel pain is most commonly experienced after wearing heels for a long time and is a direct result of the shortening of the muscles of the calf while wearing high heels.
Wearing high heels daily will create tightness which may be felt even more when wearing flat shoes or going barefoot.
The downward pressure of the weight of the entire body on the front of the foot can also result in squashed toes, and in pointed shoes this pressure is even worse. Over time the toe nails will become damaged and can result in deformed toe nails or put you at risk for fungal infections.
One of the least appealing foot conditions, bunions are also painful and may require surgery to treat.
Walking at an angle such as in high heels can also put you at risk for falling and spraining your ankle or even fracturing it. A study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice even found that women who wore 10-cm high heels more often than three times per week had significantly weakened ankles after only a few weeks.
The women in the study had their ankle strength isokinetically measured and their dynamic balance (walking) assessed. The research indicated that while, in the short-term, weakened ankles might be a short-term result, in the long-term it could lead to muscular imbalance.
The SpineAlign Team