How Can High Heels Damage The Feet?
High heels may be beautiful, but can they be hiding a less than beautiful reality for your foot health? High heels give legs a slender and toned look through drastically altering the position of the foot. By balancing most of the weight on the ball of the foot, pain in this area can arise as well as a hardening of the skin and blistering. This can even cause a shortening of the Achilles tendon. Other problems caused by unnatural weight distribution are arch pain, as well as pain and cramping in the toes.
As a secondary effect of an altered weight distribution of the foot, your walk gait may be altered when wearing heels to accommodate discomfort and help balance. This may go on to cause strain and stress to muscles in the ankles, legs and knees. Prolonged stress on areas of the foot can eventually lead to conditions such as bunions and hammertoes, and even arthritis in extreme cases.
The Science Behind High Heels
High heels force the foot into a plantar flexed position, like when pushing the gas pedal of a car. This position is achieved through engaging the ankle joint and can over time cause stiffness of the Achilles tendon. When wearing high heels, muscles are engaged even in a non-moving stance position. This causes muscle strain and fatigue.
Naturally, a foot in motion rolls from heel-to-toe in a back-to-front motion. When wearing heels however, the gait is altered and reduced in length, with weight and force unnaturally distributed, resulting in knee flexion as well as hip and lower back strain. This can cause a higher risk of knee osteoarthritis because the knees absorb shock over the natural foot motion distribution.
How To Wear Heels Safely
Obviously, heels are not the best for your feet, but sometimes that’s not going to stop a person when heels are such a fashion staple. Here are some tips to prevent some of the described foot problems when wearing heels:
- Limit your time and take a break. Taking a break between long periods of heel wearing can help ameliorate some of the compounding stress and tension. Try carrying an extra pair of shoes and switching out your heels throughout the day, or slipping them off when seated.
- Stretch. Try some stretches focusing on stretching the Achilles tendon. Facing a wall for support with knees slightly bent, stretch one leg backwards with both feet remaining flat on the floor until there is a stretch resistance in the tendon of the stretched leg.
- Find the correct fit. Poor fitted heels will exasperate gait and strain problems. Make sure your shoes are as comfortable as possible and don’t allow the foot to slide when walking.
- Add padding. Heels can cause pressure on the balls of the feet, added padding such as an insole could help keep pain at bay. Additionally, adding padding around common pressure areas such as the little toe and heel can alleviate some pressure that may negatively affect posture and gate.
What Are The Alternatives To High Heels?
Fashionable footwear doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. To keep your toes healthy, it’s best to wear supportive, well-fitted shoes, along with measuring your feet and wearing the right shoe size.
If you like to elongate your frame with heels, why not try an alternative such as platform shoes or block heels? Unlike traditional high heels, block heels don’t drastically alter the position of the foot, and sometimes the slight elevation of the heel can be beneficial for people who feel discomfort in flat shoes because of tendon or arch problems.
Here at Uufey we provide comfortable, orthotic, fashionable footwear. Orthopaedic Footwear aims to correctly align the foot position and give the feet optimal comfort and can also help prevent foot conditions by supporting joints and muscles.
Included in our range is Shine Orthotic Sandal. With a raised heel, this sandal alternative gives added height whilst not compromising on comfort. Stilettos may be iconic, but you will always look your best when you feel your best.
Please note the content of our blog is not intended to substitute for professional medical diagnosis or advice.