Why High Heels Are Harming Your Health

High heels. Those two words, when strung together, can evoke a variety of feelings, emotions, as well as the possible emptying of bank accounts. You might be more than familiar with them, having a closet or two devoted to your collection which spans the colors of the rainbow, and bestow upon them the power to “make or break” any outfit and/or week.

You are not alone. Statistics show that 72% of women will have worn heels at least once in their lifetime, and the average American woman will spend in excess of $9,000 on them during her time here on planet earth. Wait, what!?

But if you’re an avid wearer of high heels, you also might be familiar with how painful wearing them can be over an extended period of time. For some of you that might be a full day, for others a full five minutes. And there’s a reason for this: heels can actually be harmful to your health.

So, in addition to sore tootsies, let’s explore why you might want to put down your next pair of 4”, bedazzled, red patent leather stilettos and explore what those “flats” everyone keeps mentioning are all about.

Petrovic Marko / Shutterstock.com
Petrovic Marko / Shutterstock.com

1. Muscle Strain

The human body is a pretty marvelous thing. When we’re standing with proper posture (also called neutral posture), and everything is in alignment, the forces of gravity are working perfectly with us. If any of you are familiar with yoga, there is a posture called Mountain Pose which perfectly demonstrates what this looks like.

When we slap on a pair of heels, placing our body at a whole bunch of unnatural angles, those gravitational forces are now against us. This causes the muscles in our calves, thighs, glutes and back to work extra hard to keep us from tipping flat onto our faces.  And maintaining this wonky posture over time can cause pain, swelling and damage in all of the above areas.

Let’s delve deeper into what that actually looks like, working from our feet on up…

Sergey Mironov / Shutterstock.com
Sergey Mironov / Shutterstock.com

2. Smashed Piggies

Remember this: the higher the heel, the greater the amount of pressure being placed on the ball of the foot. Naturally, these forces cause the foot to slide forward, especially when walking, and the only thing stopping your foot is the front of your shoe. That pressure then ends up being pushed back into your toes, which not only causes pain and inflammation in the toe joints and tissues, but in all of the bones of the foot as well.

Now, if we all take a moment and think back to the childhood nursery rhyme we all know, we can recall that it doesn’t mention anything anywhere about “this little piggy” being shoved unceremoniously into a pointy-toed stiletto.

MarinaP / Shutterstock.com
MarinaP / Shutterstock.com
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