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Brighton and Hove's leading Physiotherapy, Massage & Podiatry specialists

Award winning Health Clinic, 70 New Church Road, Hove, BN3 4LF
Info@studio57clinic.co.uk

What Happens When You Wear High Heels?

History

The high heels that we all know today, were originally brought to Europe by emissaries of Persia in the early 17th century. They were originally worn by men, to prove their upper-class status. Only someone who did not have to work could afford, both financially and practically, to wear the extravagant shoes.

To this day heels are still worn to achieve the elegance that was craved all of those years ago, even though we are now aware of the damage that wearing high heels can do to our bodies, they still remain very much in vogue.

 

What Physically Happens To The Body?

The average person will begin to get pain in their feet within 10 to 60 mins of wearing high heels. This pain is generally located around the ball of the foot as the pressure and weight of the whole body is on this area instead of being evenly distributed throughout the foot. Acute ailments include, corns, calluses, blisters and generalised foot pain. Anyone who has worn high heels before can attest to the reduced balance and stability when walking, think “Bambi on ice”. Trips and falls are common, which can lead to sprains and fractures within the ankle and foot.

Gait is used to describe a person's manner of walking. Walking does not only affect your feet, the way you walk has an effect on your knees, hips and spine. Wearing high heels can change your gait which can cause a misalignment, from your feet, through your ankles, knees, hips and up to your spine. Prolonged use of high heels could lead to the misalignment causing multiple issues within the bones and joints, such as osteoarthritis.

There is an increased risk for anyone over 40, as there is less flexion within the ankle joints, which can cause weakness, therefore, leading to instability adding to the possibility of an accident causing sprains and fractures.

Stress fractures can also occur within the bones in the centre of the foot (metatarsals) or the bones in the balls of the foot, as they are not designed to withstand the pressure. Anyone who has the genetic trait for bunions who avoid wearing high heels as much as possible as they will speed up the process of forming a bunion.

 

What Is The Cost?

In 2008, a study was conducted by podiatrist Emma Supple, into the cost of wearing high heels on the NHS. It was suggested that chronic pain from wearing high heels cost the NHS £29 million per year. The total was broken down into:

  • Common Operations e.g. Bunions and Corns - £13.8 Million
  • Complex Operations e.g. Toe Straightening - £10.4 Million
  • Big toe joint replacement - £3.3 Million
  • Removing Trapped nerves - £2 Million
  • Ingrowing toenails - £200,000

The NHS will have a long waiting list for these procedures. If you are in need of any of the above operations you may need to see a private physician in order to have any of the issues resolved earlier.

 

Heels in the Workplace

Some industries and companies require women to wear heels as part of their uniform. Unfortunately in some cases this can not be avoided. If you work within one of these industries, and are uncomfortable with wearing heels, it could be advisable to discuss with your line manager. If you are happy and comfortable in heels, ensure you wear shoes with a thicker heel and regularaly vary the hight to give your feet time to recover. In 2017 the College of Podiatry tried to amend the high heels and workplace dress code act, but unfortunately, were unsuccessful.

 

What To Do?

So what is the solution?

We know that high heels aren’t good for us, it’s also important to remember that not all flat shoes are supportive and good for your feet too. Realistically, wearing heels a couple of times a year when you have a wedding or an event may not have a long term effect on your health, but if you do wear high heels on a regular basis, here are a few simple tips:

  • Vary the height - kitten, mid and high, this will give your body time to recover
  • Make sure they fit - Get your feet measured and ensure your shoes are a good quality fit
  • Wear heels that are thicker in width or wedges -  for a more balanced weight distribution across the foot
  • If you have to wear heels to work everyday, make sure you wear trainers or other supportive shoes on your commute
  • If you are committed to wearing your stilettos daily, make sure you have a regular podiatrist for a full MSK assessment

Your Blog Takeaway:

Takeaway

  1. High Heels are not only bad for your feet, but your ankles, knees,hips and spine too
  2. They can cause severe long term chronic conditions within your body
  3. If you have to wear heels to work, where supportive shoes or trainers on your commute.
  4. If in doubt, visit your podiatrist

Remember, your feet take the whole weight of your body everyday, it's important to make sure your shoes fit well and are supportive.

Questions?

If you have any questions, or want to book an appointment please email info@studio57clinic.co.uk or call us on 01273 711399.

References

 

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