What do you have to know?
High-heeled shoes are type of shoes which raise the heel of the wearer’s foot significantly higher than the toes. When both the heel and the toes are raised, as in a platform shoe, it is generally not considered to be a “high-heel.” High-heels come in a wide variety of styles, and the heels are found in many different shapes, including stiletto, block, tapered, blade, and wedge.
Today, high-heel shoes are typically worn in public only by women, who may wear high-heels at work or on formal occasions. High-heels have seen significant controversy in the medical field lately, with many Podiatrists seeing patients whose severe foot problems have been caused almost exclusively by high-heel wear.
What high-heels do to your feet and body?
• Throw weight onto the ball of the foot, which may lead to Metatarsalgia, painful bunions and Hallux Limitus.
• Push the centre of mass in the body forwards, causing the spine to bend backwards to compensate. This can lead to back problems.
• The position of the foot in the shoe and an often-narrow heel width can cause the ankle to become unstable, resulting in ankle sprains.
• The calf muscle may shorten and tighten. Wearing high-heels for long periods – more than six months – may cause the calf muscle to become shortened all the time. The body compensates for this tightness in the calf-muscle by lowering the arch of the foot, or affecting the knee, hip or back.
• Poorly fitted high heels can quickly cause blisters, bunions, calluses, corns, etc. These foot problems can become so painful that one must give up wearing high heels. So, precautions should be taken to prevent these foot problems before they happen.
Top tips for wearing high heels:
• Keep high heels for special occasions.
• Save backless high-heeled shoes for evening glamour. Backless shoes force your toes to claw as you walk, straining the muscles if worn over a long period.
• Calf stretches help to keep feet supple and keep a good range of movement. To stretch your calf and heel, stand facing a wall with feet hip width apart and slightly bent at the knee. Take one step forwards, and using your arms to lean against the wall, keep your leg in front bent and the leg behind straight. Both feet should be flat on the ground. Lean in towards the wall, as you do, you should feel your muscles stretching in your calf and heel. Hold and slowly return to a standing position. Do this with each leg about five times. Seek further help if you experience problems doing this exercise.
• Vary your heel heights from day to day, one-day wearing low heels, and the next day slightly higher heels.
• Vary shoe types.
• For everyday use, keep heel heights to about 4cm.
• Consider wearing shoes with a strap or lace over the instep rather than slip-ons. This will help stop your foot sliding forward, a bit like a seat belt in a car.
• Visit a registered Podiatrist for advice. You can take your shoes with you for specific advice on footwear.
Maybe you consider your high heels an essential part of, who you are, and the thought of giving up these fashion accessories is more than you can bear. Do you have to give up your high heels? Not entirely.
“You can still wear high heels, but save them for special occasions,” “For instance, church on Sunday or an evening out. Avoid wearing high heels every day to minimize your risk of developing foot problems.”
Your feet are, quite literally, your base of support. By some estimates, you’ll log several thousand miles walking during your lifetime. Don’t let your sense of style cripple your ability to stand, sit or step pain-free. Take small now to prevent foot problems later.