Are Your High Heels Causing Serious Health Problems?

Heartbreak, Self

Are those stilettos worth it?

High heels could become a leading cause of foot pain in women. These painful shoes force the foot into awkward and uncomfortable positions, often in cramped and crowded spaces. A study was done by the journal Arthritis Care & Research to examine the relation between shoe types and foot pain. It was found that nearly 64% of women suffering from heel and ankle pain wore high heels, and similar styles, regularly. There are many dangers associated with high heels, from foot deformations to painful calluses, and none of them are pretty situations to be in. There is not only the uncomfortable position your foot is in to blame, but also the lack of balance, the lack of arch or comfort and the materials that these shoes are often crafted from.

Beauty is pain. However, that should not be the case. The most beautiful thing you can do is be comfortable. There are numerous problems with high heels. Let's begin with the foot position. The way heels are shaped, the foot is forced into a position that puts most of the stress and shock from the floor onto the ball of the foot. At this point is a very critical joint called the metatarsal bones, the toe bones and the sesamoid bones. When one puts too much pressure onto these joints, they are likely to become inflamed, and the nerves around them have the same risk. These levels of chronic stress can also lead to hairline fractures in the foot bones, which can be very painful.

You are more likely to sprain your ankle in a pair of high heels. All heels run the risk of an ankle sprain, since you are mostly teetering around on thin sticks. The most common is the lateral sprain, in which you roll on the outside of your foot. This stretches the ankle ligaments past their limits, though a very severe sprain might tear them. Particularly severe ankle sprains or fractures raise your risk of contracting osteoarthritis, which causes a lot of physical problems, as well as mental. The most common culprit behind sprains in heels are the stiletto. These are super narrow high heels with very little room to try and balance in. All of your weight is pushed into one small area, and you are extremely likely to trip in them.

There is little to no arch support with most high heels. Your feet are generally slanted in varying degrees of steepness, keeping the feet from functioning properly. In the long run, this can lead to future knee, hip and back problems, as well as the condition plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a condition in which your plantar fascia, along the arch of your foot, is overstretched, torn or inflamed.

What conditions can heels cause? Bunions are perhaps one of the most uncomfortable conditions caused by high heels. This is a very painful lump that forms at the base of the big toe, and usually causes the toe to bend awkwardly. This often occurs after years of abnormal pressure and awkward foot movement, in which the tissue or bone at the joint gets displaced. There are many toe deformities one can potentially develop, such as hammertoe. Hammertoe is caused by pointy toed heels that squeeze the entire front of your foot together into one point. This can be the cause of nerve damage and pain, blisters, bunions and more. Hammertoe, however, is when an abnormal bend in the toe joints becomes rigid. This can cause intense pain that only surgery can remove. Other deformities that can be caused include corns and calluses. For some, the constant rubbing can force the joints to become inflamed and later lead to arthritis in the feet. This can become a real problem further down the line, and hinder everyday tasks like walking and driving. However, it is possible to ease the pain through exercise and diet management.

Here are some solutions. To start with, you can try lower heels. This will avoid most problems involving the metatarsal bones, and the lower the heel, the more natural a position you are in. It is advised by many health professionals to wear heels no more than 2 inches high, though they should be worn infrequently. Chunky heels are a good idea, as well, as they offer more surface area to distribute your weight on. These will make you more stable, though it still puts stress on the front of the foot. Some can try orthotic inserts to prevent & treat foot pain, and provide extra cushion to protect from pressure.

Alyssa B. Dufour, Kerry E. Broe, Anne H. Walker, Erin Kivell, Uyen-Sa D.T. Nguyen, Marian T. Hannan, David R. Gagnon, Howard J. Hillstrom. Foot Pain: Is Current or Past Shoewear a Factor? Arthritis Care & Research, 2009; DOI: 10.1002/art.24733
High-heels Linked To Heel And Ankle Pain


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