Should I wear high heels?

They can cause bunions, corns, knee strain and back ache – but hey don’t they make women feel wonderful. According to many high-fashions shoe websites a “low heel” is considered less than 2.5 inches 6.4cm, while heels between 2.5 and 3.5 inches are considered “mid heels”, and anything over that is considered a “high heel”. An estimated eight million – a third of the adult female population – regularly wear high heels. Five million suffer some pain.

highheels-w340h232High-heeled shoes push the foot forward and down while bending the toes up. The more feet are forced into this position, the more the calf muscle will shorten. The higher the heel, the bigger the body’s incline, greatly increasing the weight concentrated on the ball of the foot. That means wearing a 3in heel concentrates double the body’s weight on this area. Problems can show up after just six months wearing heels. A high heel also alters the body’s centre of gravity thereby increasing pressure on the lower back, compressing the lower back vertebrae and contracting the muscles of the lower back. Our podiatrists at Dublin City Foot Clinic have noticed recently a dramatic increase in the number of young women (often under 16) attending with often complex foot problems such as corns, hammer toes, bunions (hallux valgus), Morton’s neuroma, plantar fasciitis some of which may be permanent and require surgery to alleviate the pain.

OK, enough lecturing,,,, so you’re going to wear them anyway,,,, So what can you do to minimise the problems. Well it may sound obvious, but get a shoe that fits, where possible buy your shoes in the evening or after a long day on your feet, as you may have some degree of swelling, sometimes your feet can increase by up to one shoe size by evening. Always get the shoe properly fitted and remember, that the shoe shop often is only interested in selling you “that beautiful shoe that REALY suits you madam, yes,, but do they fit you correctly?? Poorly fitting high heels can allow the foot to repeatedly slide forward causing increased pressure on the ball of the foot and the toes. Make sure your heels fit your foot by being snug around the forefoot without being too tight. Some degree of cushioning is always a good idea; you may also want to consider a ball of foot gel pad. A thicker, wider heel also increases the shoe stability. If you “always” wear heels, perhaps consider alternating with a flatter shoe. We call this the 80/20 rule (ie) wear a good shoe 80% of time and a heel 20%. You may sometimes experience some discomfort in the back of your legs, however, this should decrease over time. Of course if all this fails then our fully qualified podiatrists at Dublin City Foot Clinic are there to alleviate any problems you may have. If in doubt, please feel free to bring your shoes with you on the day of your treatment and we can assess them to see if they are indeed the correct shoe for you.