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No pain no gain? – The perils of wearing high heels

They lengthen your legs, accentuate your bust and make your bottom look smaller, but are high heels worth the sprained ankles, arthritis, bunions and hammer-toes?

A recent survey by shoe company MBT found that over 40% of the 1000 women interviewed had suffered an accident while wearing high heels, usually from falling over. Unfortunately high heels usually go hand-in-hand with alcohol, drastically increasing the chances of a severe face plant.

According to a paper published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, wearing high heels causes an uneven distribution of weight on the feet, sending all the pressure to the ball of the feet and toes. This caused the women studied to develop shorter calf muscles and thicker Achilles tendons, making it painful to stand flat on the floor. This caused their tendons to become inflamed and sore.

A study by Harvard suggested that women who wear high heels increase the risk of developing arthritis of the knee. This is because the increased pressure on the inner compartment compresses the knee joint and damages it.

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons claim that wearing high heels can also cause the development of bunions and hammer toes. Bunions are sore red swellings on the base of the big toe and hammer toes are painful deformities where the toes curl up and cannot be straightened.

Most women wear shoes that are too small for them, which can increase the damage further. Experts recommend people wear shoes that have 1cm of room between the big toe and the toe of the shoe. Feet change size all throughout a person’s lifetime so it is always advisable to have them measured before the purchase of new shoes.

Tips for minimising the damage of high heels include:

– Don’t wear high heels as everyday shoes

– Limit the time you wear them to no more than 5 hours a day

– Glide rather than plod or stomp. Put your heel down before the ball of your foot.

– Wear flat shoes if you have far to walk

– Keep a pair of spare flat shoes in your bag when you go out

– Save wearing heels for later in life- try not to give into nagging children. The younger girls start wearing them, the higher the risk they have of developing backache or foot problems later in life.

If you have problems with your joints or back as a result of wearing high-heels, therapy may be able to help you. Please visit our Therapy Topics page for a comprehensive list of different therapies available now. 

View the original Guardian article here.

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Zoe Thomas

Written by Zoe Thomas

Written by Zoe Thomas

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