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High heel heck!?

High heel heck!?

IMG_0005Now I will be the first to admit that high heels do look fantastic on all women and also the first to  shout at the top of my lungs that they are the worst thing you can do to your feet other than flip flops.  The nice thing about flip flops is that they are only a seasonal curse, whereas high heels are torturing feet all year long.

There are so many reasons you should not wear high heels that it is difficult to know where to begin.

First, when standing, all the pressure from the sloping foot travels into the head of the metatarsals (where the toes attach to the foot).  This means that all day, the weight of the body travels into the toes.  Ouch.  That’s a lot of weight for some tiny little bones.  Wearing high heels often can even lead to a mortons neuroma over time. What is that?  The midfoot (between the toes and the heel) becomes rigid after being stuck in the shoe all day.

Second, when in this position, the ankle is always pointed. Even when sitting!  This makes the gastrocnemius (the muscle in the back of the lower leg) shorter and restricts the amount of  dorsiflexion (the range of motion to pull the toes up towards your nose) which is a problem if you enjoy running.  As you take your pointed foot out of your shoe and try to run, you make the muscle in the back of your leg stretch to a range it isn’t used to, leading to an irritated achillies tendon and injury to the muscle.  And, just like flip flops, if the ankle can’t move properly, the knee can shift forward causing more stress on the patellar tendon, the ITB where it inserts on the lower leg, and many other structures.

There have been articles in the past which have stated that high heels really are not that bad, but there are articles that support just the opposite.  One study from the Universtiy of Virginia http://www.medicine.virginia.edu/clinical/departments/physical-medicine- rehabilitation/gait-lab/high-heels.html proved the fact that women had twice the chance of developing knee osteoarthitis as men, and that those in high heels had an increase of 23% more pressure passing through the kneecap as those who walked in flat shoes…yikes.

So, if you are training for a 5km race or a marathon, it might not be a bad idea to break out those old birkenstalks after all.  Just tell everyone you are in training. 🙂

Dave Ellis, Manual Practitioner of Osteopathy, Oakville