High heels hurt more than your wallet

At my son’s recent graduation, I couldn’t help wincing as I watched almost all of the women graduates teetering on 4″ (or higher!) high heels. As you would expect with our cultural norms, all of the men wore flat dress shoes.

high heels

Why do women wear high heels?

Bet your answer is one of these:

  • Because they are fashionable
  • Because they look professional for work
  • Because they look dressy for special occasions
  • Because they can make women taller

What all of these answers have in common is that they are all about appearance. There are NO health benefits.

How wearing high heels hurts your body

High heels not only lighten your wallet, wearing them can hurt your body in several ways:

  • puts force equal to 4-4.5 times your body weight onto the forefoot bones compared to walking in flats
  • immobilizes the midfoot muscles, affecting gait
  • strains joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles from the feet to the legs, all the way up to the lower back

Why don’t men wear high heels?

Surprisingly, men wore high heels first, in the 10th Century. Persian horseback riders used them to keep their feet in the stirrups. The trend spread to Europe and became fashionable for the upper class for both men and women, but by the 18th Century, men were smart enough to ditch them in favour of flat shoes that fit feet comfortably. Check out this podcast by 99% Invisible, “Feet of Engineering,” episode 119.

Women should stop wearing high heels

Here’s a sobering fact: For every male patient referred to orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Roger Haene, he sees 19 women. Why such a difference? Women suffer more foot problems, including hammer toes, bunions, corns, nerve pain and plantar plate tears, because they wear high heels.

For this story, for the Canadian November/December 2016 edition of The Costco Connection, I interviewed an orthopaedic surgeon, a podiatrist and a chiropractor. They provided some great insights and tips to reduce foot problems. Click on the image to read the story.

I think women would be wise to give up wearing high heels altogether. I gave them up years ago and I’m glad I did!

Fancy Feet Follies

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