High Heels and Your Feet

When it comes to women’s shoes and fashion, high heels are here to stay! After a brief decline in popularity a few years ago, they are back, more popular than ever. Indeed, a recent study published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery reported that high heel related injuries doubled in the past decade. These included falls from imbalance from the shoes, as well as foot problems.
Why the popularity of high heels? Simply because they make the female leg look attractive and make the gait more alluring. They are nothing new. Although probably used in some cultures before, the current Western fascination with high heels is said to have begun in France in 1533. The petite Catherine de Medici was to marry King Henry ll . She had high heeled shoes designed for the wedding to make herself appear taller. She looked so fabulous at the wedding that high heels became the rage of fashion in Europe. They arrived much later in the USA, in the 1880’s.
High heels pose several potential risks for women who wear them. In addition to the imbalances that they can cause, creating a fall risk, they cause excessive pressure to be transferred to the front of the foot. This can aggravate such conditions as bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas. Additionally, their use causes shortening of the posterior leg muscles and lead to Achilles tendinitis.
Although it may be unrealistic to forbid high heel use completely, reducing the total amount of time in these shoes may be prudent, especially time spent walking or standing. Also, using a shoe with a heel height of 2 inches or less is preferable. Platform type-heels and wedges are also better for the feet than stiletto –type narrow heels. A soft upper and a more rounded toe box are also preferable. Finally, if high heels are to be worn for prolonged time periods in individuals prone to problems, a custom high heel orthotic can be prescribed.
Sensibility and moderation are the important factors in women who choose to wear these attractive, but potentially dangerous, fashion statements.

Posted in Melbourne Podiatry Blog.