We’re all women here; thus the phrase, “A great pair of heels can make or break your outfit” has come out of our mouths (or our friends' mouths) at least once. What about the lesser known phrase, “A great pair of heels can make or break your BACK?” You’ve never heard that saying because I just made it up. But it’s true—studies have shown that extensive high-heel-wearing causes problems to several parts of your body.
- Foot Problems
This is the most obvious problem. Heels, which are composed of many layers, including the heel, padding, and toe box, are designed to lift the body and make the legs and body as a whole look longer and leaner—but it’s at the expense of your toes. When you slip on a pair of four-inch heels, you may notice that your posture takes a nosedive almost immediately, and your toes begin to compensate for the new angle of weight distribution. The higher the heel, the more weight you are pushing onto your toes–sometimes as much as 75-80%. Just on your toes. Next thing you know, bunions and ingrown toenails are appearing right and left, and all because you’re cramming your toes into a pointed toe box. And don’t forget that lovely thing called nerve damage (I hear he’s real fun at parties).
- Back Problems
As mentioned before, posture takes a nasty hit when you’re wearing those stilettos. When your feet are flat on the ground, your spine is fairly straight; however, heels are a different story. With all that weight bearing down, your body overcompensates by pushing your lower back forward, causing spine misalignment. Such drastic physical distress can have serious complications because it can lead to vertebrae overlapping (which is enormously painful) and other uncomfortable conditions.
- Leg Problems
While most problems arise in the back and feet, the legs suffer too. Muscles in your calves shorten and tighten differently depending on the high heel, as does the Achilles tendon. This creates pain in your heels and ankles as well. Additionally, the harder pressure is applied to the kneecaps, particularly the inner section. This could ultimately lead to conditions like osteoarthritis.
There’s no doubt about it; a pretty pair of heels makes you feel confident and sexy, but when you’re reaching for those heels for the fifth day in a row, reconsider. Try a pair of cute ballet flats. Wear tennis shoes to and from work and change into your heels when you get there. Try and only wear heels when you won’t be standing or walking very much, like in church or at your office job). Wear lower heels (preferably under two inches) to minimize the damage. Stretch before and after you put your shoes on. And whatever you do, know that it’s okay to sacrifice painful beauty for sensible and happy feet.
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