High heels have long been a staple in the workplace and for formal social functions. To some women, a dress or skirt suit does not look complete without a pair of high heels. But as fashionable as they might be, high heels are not a smart choice for your body. Keep reading to learn about some of the consequences of high heels and to also discover advice for choosing more health-promoting footwear.
The Consequences of Wearing High Heels
Repeated and extended wear of high heels can result in a variety of health problems over time. These include the following.
1. Ingrown Toenails
High heels tend to push your foot forward in the shoe. As such, they place a lot of pressure on the tops and fronts of your toes - in particular, the big toes. Over time, this pressure can cause the toenails to grow into the skin.
Ingrown toenails may begin as a minor annoyance, but as they become more serious, they can cause pain that makes it hard to walk or even to touch your toes. The skin around the ingrown nail may become infected. If you are diabetic or have poor circulation in your feet, this infection could spread and become life-threatening.
Ingrown toenails often require professional treatment by your podiatrist, who may remove a portion of the nail or sometimes even the entire nail. Preventing ingrown toenails, however, is a lot easier and less painful - and prevention starts with wearing high heels less often.
2. Bunion Pain
Bunions occur when your big toe starts leaning towards your other toe and a large bump forms at the base of your big toe. Even if your bunions are hereditary, heels can make them a lot worse. Tall, thin heels, in particular, place a lot of pressure on the bunion. When you walk in heels, your foot tends to slip to the side, which can also worsen your bunion pain.
If you have minor bunions, staying away from high heels may mean you're able to go on living with them - whereas if you were to wear heels every day, you may eventually need surgery to correct the bunions.
3. Muscle and Tendon Changes
Over time, when you wear heels regularly, the muscles in your calf shorten. The Achilles tendon, which is the large tendon located just above your heel, also thickens and shortens. Shortened calf muscles and thickened Achilles tendons can make walking barefoot painful. The pain may cause you to avoid exercise and become more sedentary, which is not good for your long-term health.
4. Back Pain
Wearing heels also has an impact on the curvature of your spine. The middle of your back is forced to flatten out to compensate for your leaning forward on heels. In response, the muscles in this area will tighten and become painful.
If you have back pain and remedies like resting, applying ice to your back, and changing your bedding have not helped, look to your footwear. Avoiding heels often remedies back pain at its source.
Tips for Choosing Better Shoes
Wearing heels on a rare occasion is unlikely to have a serious effect on your overall health or foot health. However, wearing heels every day is a terrible habit best avoided. Opt instead for well-fitted shoes that support your feet and stay in place as you walk. Here are a few other tips for finding shoes that fit well:
- Go shoe shopping in the afternoon. Your feet expand throughout the day, so shoes you buy in the morning tend to be too tight.
- Remember that sizes vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Try on different sizes to see what fits best.
- Try shoes on with the same type of sock you intend to wear with them.
If you have worn heels for a long time and are beginning to deal with ingrown toenails, Achilles tightness, or bunion pain as a result, contact the podiatrists at Greenville Podiatry Associates PA. We can evaluate your case and recommend the treatments that are best for you.