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Why Wearing High Heels is Bad for Your Health

What do toe pain, mid-foot pain, heel pain, ankle pain, knee pain, hip pain, lower back pain, mid-back pain, upper back pain, and headaches all have in common?

You guessed it - they can all be caused by wearing high heels on a regular basis.

Each of your feet is made up of 26 major bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles and tendons. Leonardo Da Vinci was right on when he called the human foot "a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art."

Your feet are designed to provide you with a balanced and stable foundation as you walk or run over many different types of terrain. Here are some more fun facts about your feet:

  • Your two feet strike the ground an average of 1,800 times over the course of walking one mile.

  • The average person walks around 5 miles per day, translating to 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day.

  • When you walk, your feet bear the force of one and one-half times your body weight. When you run, this force increases to three to four times your body weight.

In knowing about the heavy workload that your feet face every day, it should be clear that wearing comfortable shoes is extremely important for your physical health. Even with comfortable running shoes on, your feet face tremendous strain throughout the day. Can you imagine the burden that is generated when the full force of your body weight is crushing down on the base of your toes rather than being evenly distributed to all 26 bones of each foot?

Wearing high heels creates faulty biomechanics and unnecessary stress on your ankles, knees, pelvis, and potentially throughout your entire spine. This is because your body, from feet to head, is similar to a long chain of gears, where the happy functioning of each gear depends on the happy functioning of every other gear. If the joints of your feet don’t work properly because of the strain of wearing high heels, you can bet that other areas of your body are forced to compensate and suffer extra wear and tear. In some cases, the compensatory changes that result from wearing heels can cause the muscles behind your neck to be stiff, putting pressure on nerves that can result in chronic headaches. As Socrates once said, "when your feet hurt, you hurt all over."

Women have approximately four times as many foot problems as men. Wearing high heels is undoubtedly a major reason for this.

Enough of the facts. Here are some suggestions on how to properly take care of your feet:

  1. Avoid wearing high heels whenever possible.

  2. When you go shopping for shoes, do it in the afternoon or evening, as feet tend to get a little bigger throughout the day because of fluid accumulation. You want your shoes to comfortably house your feet when they are at their biggest.

  3. Measure your feet each time you buy shoes. And be sure to measure them while you are standing. Don’t forget to wear the thickest socks that you would normally wear.

  4. Try shoes on both of your feet, as one foot may be larger than the other.

  5. If you’re not already there, strive to be reach and maintain an optimal (lean) body weight for your structure. Being overweight puts extra stress on your feet, the joints in your legs, and the joints in your spine. Consider carrying a 10-pound bag of potatoes in your arms all day long - this is the extra stress that your feet feel for every 10 pounds that you are over your ideal weight.

  6. Eat a minimally processed, plant-centered diet to promote optimal blood circulation throughout your body - this will ensure optimal nourishment of the tissues that make up your feet, as well as optimal clearing out of waste products from your lower extremities.

Make no mistake about it: Your feet and the rest of your body pay a heavy price whenever you wear high heels. If you want to stay physically strong and mobile as you age, please consider saying no to high heels, and yes to the most comfortable shoes that fit within your budget.

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Comments

Great information on bringing attention to the feet. I don't wear high heels often but I do have problems with leg/calf/lower back pain and have tried many different brands of shoes and foot support out there...Dansko, MBT, OTC cushioning pads, even supportive tedhose...but nothing seems to quite work. I work long hours and spend a lot of time on my feet standing/running around. At the end of the day, my feet are often swollen and sore all over that I'd have to raise them up and put them on the calf massager (I love those!) Any recommendations out there for regular or work shoes? Many thanks!

 

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