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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Adverse Effects of High Heels

Wearing high heels has long been associated with foot pain and problems like ingrown toe nails, corns, calluses, bunions, neuromas, hammertoes and other deformities. A recent study shows that women who wear high heels are also at risk for structural and functional changes in muscles and tendons of the lower leg.

Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University in England compared the lower limbs of women who wear high heels regularly with those who don’t. The regular wearers had thicker and stiffer Achilles tendons and less range of motion in their ankles. They also had shortened gastrocnemius muscles. The gastrocnemius is the major muscle in the lower leg and women who wore high heels regularly had 13 percent shorter fibers. Some also reported pain when wearing flat-soled shoes, a result of shorter muscles and tighter tendons.

For healthy feet, ankles and legs, save high heels for special occasions and follow these rules when selecting shoes:

•    Choose shoes that fit your feet well

•    Opt for lower heels with a gradual slope over higher heels with a steeper slope

•    Look for shoes with good cushion or insert silicone pads under the ball of each foot for added shock absorption

•    Choose open-toed shoes to relieve pressure on feet

•    Wear thicker heels that provide more stability to maintain better balance and ease pressure on the knees, hips and back

Reference:

Csapo R et al. On muscle, tendon and high heels. Journal of Experimental Biology. 2010 Aug 1;213(Pt 15):2582-8.

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