The Devil in Heels:
Exploring the Risk of High Heels
Fashion dictates! Whether you’re attending a sweet sixteenth, day to day work or a corporate soiree, high heels still seem to be a number one choice of footwear among females in metropolitan areas. Fashion, confidence and power are all given reasons of why individuals feel they need to wear high heels, but there are significant reasons why health practitioners warn against such footwear.
The most obvious is falls! Even the most well seasoned stiletto tittering fashionista has their moments; an unsuspected stone, curb or bump in the carpet can deliver them to the ground in a less than elegant manner with the end result usually consisting of hobbling around the office with a ice pack attached to their ankle for the next two days. However, there are more chronic conditions that can develop outside of the embarrassing stack.
Bunions and Toe Deformities: A bunion can be caused by a number of reasons but footwear seems to be one of the more prominent risk factors. The tight toe box of the heels places increased pressure on the 1st or “large” toe causing it to move laterally, putting increased pressure on the joint and the other structures of the foot.
Placing the feet into an angled position above 2.5cm can cause the foot to slide forward, cramming it into the toe box of the footwear and the lesser toes to curl leading to hammer, claw or mallet formations.
Osteoarthritis: Increased pressure on the structure of the feet can lead to unnatural joint movement and trauma leading to the development of Osteoarthritis.
Some studies have shown the most people have the beginnings of osteoarthritis at the big toe joint by the age of 30.
Muscle Pain: The design of high heels places increased demand on the muscles of the body. The calf muscles are placed into a shortened position and the quads and anterior leg muscles are used to stabilize the body while moving. This can lead to overuse injuries or general muscle soreness as well as more significant injures such as plantarfascitis and achillies tendonopathy.
Neuritis/Neuroma: As previously discussed the forefoot can be placed in a compromising position in high heels. Neuri.tis is the inflammation of nerve tissue leading to burning, tingling or pins and needles with in the foot
When looking for a high heel that is less likely to cause significant trouble, look for a lower heel, wider toe box and soft insoles to reduce stressors upon the foot.