Women of the world, why are we doing this to ourselves? You know that amazing feeling you get when you kick off your heels in the car after a function? The minute you walk through the door, the heels are flung off, and your poor, crinkled-up toes have a good cry. They feel (and look) like the feet of that unfortunate witch in The Wizard of Oz did after the house dropped on her—shrunken, shriveled, and limp.
I was recently in Las Vegas and was shocked by how many women I witnessed hobbling around on the sidewalk in impractical high-heeled shoes. Up and down the strip, women were limping along, pained expressions on their perfectly made-up faces. It made me think, “Who are we doing this for, and why?” I love a beautiful stiletto, but after about an hour, I want them of me and yearn for a barefoot walk in the grass.
Here are some things to consider if you wear high heels.
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According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, “heel wearers should avoid heels higher than two inches” and “wearing heels three inches or higher shifts body weight forward and puts great pressure on the ball of the foot and the toes.” Wearing heels also shortens your calf and back muscles, which causes painful spasms and tightness. After wearing heels for more than a few consecutive days, it hurts when I wear shoes, even flats. My doctor said this was because consistently using high heels can shorten the Achilles tendon. Furthermore, heels can cause plantar fasciitis, which causes the bottom of the foot to hurt when you walk or even stand.
You’re messing with your anatomy.
Heels force the spine to arch, make your tailbone jut out, and require your lower back to work harder than usual to help you stand up straight. Occasional heel use won’t be a problem, and you may not even notice how unnatural your body’s alignment becomes during wear. However, over time, heels cause the body to overcompensate for rocking around on the balls of your feet, leading to more than just aches and pains. You’re asking your body to change shape by making a fashion choice. The bottom line is that frequent use can cause permanent pain and changes to your posture that are not for the better.
Risk of injury
Doctors constantly treat patients for injuries like concussions, corns, and broken or sprained ankles caused by heels that are too high. There have been times when I was balancing in very steep high-heeled shoes on paved, slippery surfaces and thought I’d fall and break a limb. Slipping on a pair of heels puts you in a position where you must delicately navigate around and over uneven surfaces and textured flooring—and let’s not forget simply climbing up and down a flight of stairs. Perhaps it’s best to pop out of your heels and carry a pair of backup flats for steep and tricky terrain.
Cutting off circulation
This one gave me pause. Heels constrict circulation by squeezing the foot into abnormal positions. Look at most fashionable high heels—they contort the foot into a longer, thinner shape, similar to how skinny jeans suffocate the hips and legs. This footwear choice stifles your blood flow and can even cause blood vessels to break. Your body is already working pretty hard to pump tired blood back to your heart from your lower extremities. Why make it work any harder because of the shoes you want to wear?
Style shouldn’t mean suffering.
Logically, we understand that some of our fashion choices may not be conducive to comfort. In the end, there’s a balance between wearing a hemp sack and arch-supporting sandals or pointy, six-inch stilettos with tight Lycra dresses. Moderation, as in most things, is key here. Limit the time you spend in uncomfortable footwear, invest in a good pair of walking shoes, and you won’t be plagued by the numerous ailments mentioned in this article.