High Heel Hazards

With wedding and summer party season around the corner, many have the desire to throw on a pair of glamorous high heels. Although fashionable, wearing high-heel shoes can leave you with undesirable short and long-term effects. Stylish stilettos can lead to problems such as foot, knee, hip and back pain.

When your heel is elevated in a shoe, your toes push forward and are squished into a narrow toe box. This can leave you with blisters, ingrown toe nails and can lead to bunions or even nerve damage at the ball of your foot (in an area we call the metetarsals).

ottawalifeheel1 (1)Wearing heels will also put you at an increased risk of spraining your ankle. These shoes will force you to support more of your bodyweight on a narrow heel, which is higher from the ground than other types of shoes, which leaves your ankle stability weakened. So, if you were to ever role an ankle, damage could be more severe since you have farther to fall.

Chronic high heel wear can cause more permanent damage to areas other than the feet. For example, shortening of the tendon on the back of your heel (the Achilles tendon) can occur from chronically contracting the calf muscles. This can also lead to further problems such as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis can cause intense pain on the bottom of your feet.

If you have low back pain and wear high heels, your shoes may be to blame. When the front of your foot slides forward in a heeled shoe, you are forced to redistribute the rest of your weight by leaning backwards to maintain an upright position. This can cause you to overarch your low back. Overtime, this increased “lumbar lordosis” can put a lot of strain on muscles, joints, ligaments and nerves in the low back and legs.

Is there a solution?

If you insist on wearing heels, here are a few tips to help find the best compromise:

  1. When shopping for heels, you want to find one with the most arch support. Do not choose a heel higher than two inches. The lower you go, the more natural your foot position will be.
  2. Choose a chunky heel over the stiletto type. Although you will still be dumping weight into the ball of your foot, the wider heel will increase your base of support.ottawalifehighheel2
  3. Choose a shoe with few straps. The more straps you have, the higher the chance of getting blister irritation.
  4. Shop in the evening for heels. Over the course of the day, our feet accumulate fluid. Shopping later in the day will allow you to chose heels that accommodate for this.

Try these tips from Ottawa Holistic Wellness. Keep your feet happy and treat them with love and care!