The Damage the Heels Cause

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Girls love their heels. They make them feel confident, they are always in fashion and let’s face it – they look stunning and make females look chick! However, studies have shown that high heels are the leading cause of female foot pain. When your feet ache from fancy shoes, that pain could be an indication of serious harm to your body.

How to Minimise the Damage

“If you’re going to wear the heels, decrease the damage they cause.” – says osteopath Claire Richardson.

  • “Reduce the height of the heel to less than 5 cm. Smaller heels prevent too much of your body weight being placed directly over the ball of the foot, and may help to decrease the risk of plantar fasciitis and bunions – unsightly and painful lumps on the side of the knuckle of the big toe. Any higher, and the centre of mass gets pushed forward over the toes, leading to stress on the lower back and hips.
  • Avoid pointed toes, as they compress the toes together and encourage bunion (unsightly and painful lumps on the side of the knuckle of the big toe) formation.
  • Use a wedge heel instead of a stiletto, as it promotes better balance and reduces stress on the underneath of the foot”.

Osteopath Richardson suggests to stretch calves for 20 seconds, 3 times a day, swap to trainers (where possible) or supportive flat shoes (such as when commuting, on your lunch break, or driving).

“It also really depends on the height of the heel, type of heel (wedge or stiletto) and shape of the heel (court or pointed). – adds Claire. “However, bunions may form which often need to be surgically treated, plantar fasciitis or Achilles problems may occur due to the shortening of the calf muscles.”

Studies published in Medical Journal show that 80% of the population will suffer from back pain at some time. High heels can be the reason for back, neck pain and poor posture.

“We only have one back, and it is the cornerstone and tethering point for all of your limbs and your head. Our back plays a part in almost every movement that we undertake, so back health should be treated seriously! Chronic back pain is a problem that is only becoming more common due to the stresses and strains placed upon our backs in our modern society”.

What to Wear?

Occasionally, small wedge heels may help people who have had acute problems with calf muscles whilst they recover. As a general rule, supportive flat shoes will win the majority of the time. It does not necessarily mean that ballet flats are the best option.

“Poor quality, non-supportive ballet flats without a heel strap may cause foot pain and weaken the arch of the foot, however, do not change the body’s centre of mass. – says Dr Richardson, Osteopath.

“If I had to pick the best of a bad bunch, ballet flats would win. As a general rule, shoes should be supportive, with a slight lift underneath the arch of the foot, have a strap over the front of the ankle and around the heel, and have enough material in the sole to prevent distortion of shape, and protrusion of objects from underneath.”

by Claire Richardson, Osteopathy Australia

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