Women often wear high heels on a regular basis. They look beautiful with everything from casual to formal dresses. While they may look appealing, looks aren't always worth your health. If you wear high heels, you need to fully understand how they are affecting your body.
According to Hanseo University in South Korea, wearing high heels can dramatically disrupt your balance. Women who wear high heels have increased muscle strength around their ankles and toes at first. Unfortunately, as women continue to wear high heels, those same muscles eventually weaken. The changing muscles cause balance issues. Women who wore high heels the longest had weaker muscles than non-heel wearers and worse overall balance.
The human body wasn't designed to walk with the heel higher than the toes. Your foot isn't the only thing changing when you walk. Your posture, spine, muscles, and tendons all have to shift and work differently to aid you.
When you walk in flats, your spine is straight and your weight is evenly distributed on your feet. In heels, your lower back pushes forward while you balance on your shoes. Walking out of alignment puts pressure on the balls of your feet, your knees, and your lower back.
The natural S-curve of your spine naturally absorbs shock while you walk. Your lower back pushing forward limits the shock absorption. When you walk in high-heels, you are basically choosing to live like someone with a crooked spine.
Strained calf muscles
An Australian study focused on the effects of high heels and women's calf muscles. Walking in high heels causes you to take shorter strides, but with more effort. The muscles stay flexed while walking, which puts constant strain of the calf muscles. It wears the muscles down and shortens muscle fibers. Wearing high heels every day can cause serious injury to your calf muscles in the long-term.
Every year, surgeons perform about 300 thousand knee operations due to a condition called knee osteoarthritis. The condition is caused by a severe breakdown of cartilage in the knee. In three-inch heels, women put 26% more pressure on the knees than they do walking barefoot. The pressure is the same whether the heels are narrow or wide. Symptoms of knee osteoarthritis include:
- Weak knees that give out while walking
- Limited range of motion
- Pain while walking
- Morning knee stiffness
- Crunching or grinding in the knee
Ingrown toenails occur more often when people wear tight shoes. This is because the toenail is pushed back into the skin and doesn't have enough room to grow out in the proper direction. Unless you are always wearing open-toed heels, your heels are tight on your toes. Your big toe and your pinkie toe are under the most pressure from being rubbed on the side of your heels all day. As it rubs, each toe is likely to have the toenail grow into the flesh.
Ingrown toenails are extremely painful and often need to be cut out by a doctor or foot specialist. If you continue to wear heels after having your ingrown toenail removed, you are still at risk of getting another one. You should never wear shoes that are more narrow than your toes are when you stand barefoot.
High heels are not worth the damage that they do to your feet and back. If you continue to wear them every day, you could end up with serious joint, muscle, and bone problems before you are even middle-aged. Wearing a high heel on occasion to a special event won't likely cause permanent damage, but you should practice moderation or avoid them altogether.