high heels

TIPS TO HEALTHIER SOLES

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Heels are bad for you. A concept that most women understand but find it difficult to follow through with changes in their footwear choices. There is often a misconception that wearing low-heeled shoes is the same as wearing rocket-high stilettos – so why not just opt for the taller version that makes our legs look longer and confidence levels higher?

That is the wrong approach ladies!

As with many things, high heels come in all shapes and sizes. More importantly they come in various heel heights. If you are going to wear heels, then you should opt for ones that have a heel height of 5cm (2 inches) or lower. Any higher and you’re really contributing to amplifying the risks of foot problems.

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On top of HOW HIGH your heel is – another crucial aspect to keep in mind is HOW LONG you’re wearing them for. You may be wearing 5cm heels but if you do so for prolonged periods of time e.g. over 4 hours for more than 3 days a week – you are still doing irreversible damage to your entire body.

According to the American Osteopathic Association, 1 in 10 women wear high heels at least 3 days a week, and a third of them have fallen wearing them.

On top of falling, there are many other negative and unpleasant effects wearing heels can have on your body. These include:

  • Bunions
  • Back pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Plantar fascitis
  • Lower back problems
  • In-grown toe nails
  • Bad posture/balance
  • Damage to leg tendons
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Sore toes, ankles and calves

TIPS TO HEALTHIER SOLES

CHOOSE WISELY

Check the fit of the shoe to make sure it’s the right size for you and please don’t always go for those thin stilettos. Embrace lower heels that are 5cm or under or at least opt for shoes that have a wider base with room for your feet to breathe. Avoid shoes that forces your feet to squeeze tightly against each other or ones with lack of support as this can ruin the balance of your weight distribution.

MAKE THE SWITCH MORE OFTEN

Although lower heels are better than their taller counterparts, it’s still not the ideal footwear choice. Try saving heels for special occasions where there is minimal standing/walking and wear flats more often in your busy day-to-day life. If your job or situation requires you to wear heels often, try to find times during the day to slip them off to give your feet a break. Alternatively always bring a pair of flats in your bag for emergencies.

FIND SUPPORT

To all the high-heel lovers out there, invest in soft, insertable soles!  They can help with stability in ensuring your foot doesn’t slide forward constantly when you’re walking. They can also provide more cushion support which can add comfort to your walking.

-JL

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THE WORST HEELS FOR YOUR FEET

Paris Fashionweek ss2014 day 5, outside Chloé, Net-a-Porter Team

Most women are guilty of owning a handful of heels in their shoe closets – more often than not, half of that heel collection is uncomfortable and painful to walk in after a few hours.

There are various types of high heels on the market – whether you’re a skyscraper stiletto devotee or the pointy-toed pumps fan, are you aware of the harm these shoes are doing to your feet? However as with most cases, certain shoes are doing more harm to your feet than others. According to The Huffington Post and FeelingFit.com, the following are some of the worst offenders.

STILETTOS

Stilettos are probably the worst offenders out of the pack. Us women always have a love hate relationships with these heels – whilst they make us look ultra glam, they also kill our feet with stabbing pain. Super high stilettos causes us to move our weight to the balls of our feet. The increase in pressure can contribute to balance issues as it forces our knees and hips forward. This in turn can also hurt our back and legs. Wearing stilettos can make you prone to ankle sprains, fractures, bunions and hammertoes.

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POINTY-TOED PUMPS

Honestly it baffles me as to why women are willing to stuff their toes into such a confined space – all for the sake of fashion and vanity? Whilst these heels can be a beauty, they can also bring a lot of damage to your feet. Neuroma, which is an inflammation of the nerves between the toes is one such condition that can result from wearing pointy-toed pumps. When the nerve becomes inflamed, it can cause pain and a burning sensation for the wearer – you would then need to seek professional help to treat the condition. Ladies if you really are adamant about this option, at least consider switching to one that has a wider toe box. The last thing your feet needs is to be squeezed in an unnatural and totally uncomfortable shape/position.

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HIGH-HEELED BOOTS

Again – high heeled booties may be a gorgeous shoe accessory in the winter months however they can also present similar issues and concerns to stilettos such as hammertoes and bunions. The general rule of thumb is that 25% of your body weight gets increased for every inch you go in heel height. If you are deadset on wearing these, at least opt for a low-heeled option (preferably two inches or below) and look for quality material shoes so that you minimise risk for foot injuries and you add more stability to your walk and balance.

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PLATFORM WEDGES

Whilst wedges can carry great heel heights, they are generally regarded as a ‘woman’s best friend’ when it comes to heels. Why? Wedge heels have more cushion and provide more room for support and protection for the ball of your feet. As the heel platform is covered in its entirety, there is also a reduction in incline which can help with restoring balance. Nevertheless it is important to keep in mind that if you do choose a soaring high wedge heel, it can still result in accidental falls, ankle sprains, neuromas (benign nerve tumours), bunions and hammertoes.

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BACKLESS MULES

Backless shoes results in your toes gripping onto the shoe for support – hello hammertoes? On top of this, you’re more prone to developing nasties such as calluses or breaks in the skin as your shoe is constantly tapping the heel. Mules not looking so hot now are they?

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Which high-heeld shoe above is YOUR worst shoe offender?

-JL

THE PRICE OF WEARING HEELS

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Whether you’re a high heel devotee or the ocassional wearer of heels, there’s one common issue – most women aren’t truly aware of how heels are impacting your body. Sure they can be a fashionable choice and make you feel better but are you aware of what you’re sacrificing?

High heels can cause foot problems amongst other body issues and it can even exacerbate existing problems you already have. Here we give you the lowdown on the top five harmful effects of heels, according to FootHealth.com and AllWomansTalk

1) LOWER BACK PAIN

Heels generally are not designed for comfort purposes. They usually have less support for your feet and due to the height of a heel, there is constant pressure on the balls of your feet. As a result, this causes an imbalance in weight distribution, often resulting in lower back pain. This is especially the case if you’re constantly wearing heels for long periods of time. Your posture can also be affected due to the constant imbalance. Additionally, the higher the heels are, the more likely your lower back has to arch in order to keep an upright positioning. This can also contribute to back pain.

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2) SORENESS ALL AROUND

As mentioned above, when you’re wearing heels, you’re dumping most of your body weight on the balls of your feet. This followed by constant strain and walking can cause your feet to feel sore and in pain after a while. The thing is, the pain doesn’t just stop at the feet. Your calves are often affected too and before you know it, you’re going to bed acheing sore.

3) SPRAINS & FALLS

If you’re a fan of those ultra thin and soaring high stilettos AND you haven’t tripped or fell yet – note that you are very lucky. Uneven floors surround us all the time – think drainage grates, pot holes, cobblestone roads etc. These surfaces are just waiting to trap your point heels and cause mass destruction (and humiliation) to your most vulnerable body parts. Heels can cause your feet and ankles to move in a supinated (turned outward) position and this in turn, puts you at greater risk of losing your balance and spraining your ankles. Let’s face it, heels look pretty but a sprained or broken ankle is definitely not the look you’re after. In all honesty, heels can be seriously dangerous!

4) NASTY CORNS, BLISTERS AND CALLOUSES

When you wear a fresh pair of heels, you only see the good side first. It’s all glamourous and fun upon first impression. Fast forward five hours laters, that initial look has totally faded and once you slip out of the shoes, you’re greeted with unpleasant new friends aka. corns, callouses and blisters. Three things women who wear high heels are probably familiar with. We all hate them yet we often disregard the cause of the issue. Esentially these nasties appear when you squeeeze your feet into that narrow and pointed toe box that’s often present on many heels. After all, nothing rarely ever looks good after being trapped and squished in a confined space after hours?

5) HARM TO THE KNEE JOINTS

According to Joint Essential, one study conducted at Harvard University in 1998 concluded that the heels of the shoe can have a dramatic effect on the knee joint. As in the foot, the body’s weight is evenly distributed between the front and back portions of the knee when standing barefoot. Heels can essentially contribute to degenerative arthritis in the knee. Whilst this can occur to both women and men, wearing heels certainly doesn’t help. The higher the heel, the greater the impact is on the knee and other joints.


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Heels aren’t looking too glam now are they?

-JL

THE TRUTH ABOUT HEELS

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Most women who wear heels are no stranger to the discomfort and pain that such shoes can bring but have you ever thought twice about the real damage it’s doing to your feet and body?

Ko and Lee (2013, p. 1309) suggests that high-heeled shoes can induce musculoskeletal diseases such as Plantar Fascilitis.

So what does this complicated medical term mean? According to The Hamilton Foot Clinic, Plantar Fasciitis is a condition characterised by a sharp, stabbing pain in the heel of the foot.

As descirbed by PubMed Health, the plantar fascia is the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. It connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot. Plantar Fascitis occurs when this tissue becomes overstretched, swollen and inflamed – causing heel pain. Wearing ill-fitting shoes with poor arch support can increase the likelihood of Plantar Fascilitis – something that many high-heel wearers are unaware of.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, did you know that high heels can also cause another painful foot condition called Morton’s Neuroma?

As explained by The Hamilton Foot Clinic, neuroma affects the nerves between your toes, causing a stabbing sensation that is painful when you walk. Accordingly, women who wear high heels or narrow-fitting shows are usually more prone to neuroma. If you ignore these foot symptops, irregularities can occur that may hinder optimal foot function and aggravate the condition, such as high arches, overpronation and hypermobility.

If you experience such pain, it’s best to take off those heels and massage the affected area as this can help to alleviate pain. If your condition is a bit more severe, it’s best to seek professional care from a qualified podiatrist of foot-care specialist as they may recommend long-term solutions and tips.

However there is also an easier way to prevent all of this from potentially happening…#SwitchTheHeel and #SaveYourSoles. It’s that easy.

-JL

How High Heels Hurt Your Body

There are some things in life that we all know are very bad for us – smoking, drugs, excess consumption of alcohol…etc. Then there are those things that we know are not so good for us but because we undermine its impact, we are reluctant to change our behaviour – e.g. lack of sleep, not exercising regularly or eating too much junk food. High heels unfortunately also belong to the latter group. The harm of wearing high heels barely crosses our minds but the truth is, while a pair of 10cm high stilettos can give you a boost of confidence and make your outfits look better…do you realise the toll it’s taking on your body?

Reading about health consequences from wearing high heels isn’t going to be the most exciting thing and would hardly appeal to the women readers I’m aiming for. As a result, I wanted to share this infographic from The Spine Health Institute from Florida Hospial Medical Group, which gives a quick summary of how high heels can affect and hurt your body, including your spine, hips, ankles, feet and also your posture and gait.

For those of you who insist on continuing with heels – at least read the last section on some tips to keep in mind so that you can reduce the negative effects of wearing high heels! Seriously ladies, it’s time to #SwitchTheHeel and #SaveYourSoles!

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The Spine Health Institute

-JL

Why Do We Wear High Heels?

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High heels – whether you love them or loathe them, there’s no denying that women all around the world have some sort of fascination towards them. Even those who belong in the latter group may find themselves occasionally doning a pair of stilettos. Essentially we all know that high heels are bad for our feet and let’s not even get started about the discomfort. So the real question is WHY DO WE KEEP WEARING THEM?

Here are some of my thoughts and musings upon doing some research…

The ‘Feel Good’ Factor

Frank (2008) explains that in addition to making women taller, the structure of high heels help to exaggerate the female form, working to attract favourable attention.High heels can also accentuate a woman’s legs and create the appearance of a thinner body contour. These factors all contribute to making a woman feel more attractive, thus enhancing their confidence and self-esteem levels, which serves to explain why so many are reluctant to give up high heels.

Social Conventions On Femininity

Women are often compelled to adhere to normative dress codes in order to present themselves in a manner that’s considered socially acceptable. High-heeled shoes are deemed as a favourable footwear option for women, in particularly in the eyes of the opposite sex, as it adheres to the “social conventions and constraints of femininity” (Woodward 2007, p. 142) This perhaps explains why women often turn to heels for occasions like job interviews and dates.

Fashion and Pop Culture Trends

With A-list celebrities constantly donning the latest high-heeled shoes down the red carpet, coupled by designer fashion labels such as Jimmy Choo and popular TV shows like Sex and The City constantly glamourising high heels, more women are encouraged to wear high heels as they perceive the choice to be the most trendy and fashion-appropriate (Sanghani 2014).

Do you wear high heels? If so, do any of the above reasons resonate with you? Or perhaps you disagree? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know your thoughts!

-JL

Why You Should Ditch The Heel

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With New York Fashion Week kicking off this week, there’s no doubt that there will be no shortage of high heels strutting down the catwalk and on the streets of Manhattan. Heels have long been associated with high fashion, a trendy look and is often regarded as the must-have accessory for any woman who’s looking for a boost – both literally and psychologically.

Let’s face it. As women, we all love wearing heels yet we also hate them. Any woman who claims that heels are not painful have either a) not worn them long enough, b) are taking breaks every hour by switching to flats or c) lying out of denial and refusal to ditch said heels. The clever guys at BuzzFeed have decided to chart out a woman’s happiness levels when wearing heels and as always, they are completely on point:

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Jokes aside, wearing heels is not only an uncomfortable experience, it can also cause severe health implications that us women choose to either ignore or regard as insignificant. We often live in the “now” and forget about the “what ifs” and the long term.

This is where Save Your Soles comes in – a campaign that’s not going to advocate for a complete ban on heels but rather to convince women to make the switch to better footwear more often. There’s no denying that wearing heels can be fun but at the same time, one should be more aware of the not-so-glamourous side of things.

For example did you know that everytime you sqeeze your feet and thrust your toes forward into those gorgeous stilettos, that you could be increasing the risks of developing the following problems:

  • Plantar Fascitis
  • Archilles Tendonitis
  • Sprained and Swollen Ankles
  • Aching Feet
  • Blisters
  • Hammertoes
  • Corns and Calluses
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Knee Strain

As this is only the first blog post and I don’t want to scare you away, all the health risks are thus far summarised in dot point form. Keep watching this space for more information and tips to better foot health.

Ladies, you don’t need to kill your feet to look good. #SwitchTheHeel and #SaveYourSoles!

-JL