Author: Kumar, Vasanth (Sports Scientist – Performance Coach)
Women loves high heels, but if they continue wearing them all time chances of significant foot pain and associated problems either can occur directly or exacerbated by wearing heels. (Morin, n.d.).
Any time person wears footwear that disturbs or realigns the natural counter of the foot they are bound to cause foot pain the experts says. While, if you add a bit of inches (high heels) in to this calculations then the pain can soon escalate to damage says Stuart Mogul expert in podiatry. Due to this, there exists the change in the body segmental alignment. For instance wearing high heels will restrict the natural movement of the foot and in addition to the restriction there is increased loading of weight on that area hence the person is not just crushing the toes, but adding exaggerated body weight on them says the Sports Scientist (Biomechanics) Vasanth Kumar from Chennai who is also a performance coach.
Consequences of wearing footwear with heel
Researchers have found that people wearing high heels (2 Inches or more) have tighter calves. About 13% short on the calf muscle fibres on an average was found in the calf muscle scans among the people with frequent heel wearers in comparison with the people who avoided wearing heels. A study by Journal of Experimental Biology found that high heels led to stiffer calf (Achilles) tendons.
A study by Professor Marco Narici, (Manchester Metropolitan University) that involved 11 volunteers from 80 group of women who wore 5cms (2 Inches) of heel for over a period of two years had issues and struggled while walking on flat foot (Bare Foot). An MRI Scan of these volunteers showed no significant difference in length of the calf muscles in comparison with the group of women who wore flat shoes. While, an Ultra Sound scan showed shorter calf among the women who wore heels. In addition, the women who wore heels were asked to lie on their front on the couch and the researchers noticed the angle of the heel were greater due to the shortened calf. Above all these, the tendons were much thicker and stiffer among the women wearing heels than those who wore flat footwear that causes discomfort while walking on flat feet since the tendon cannot stretch sufficiently.
Sammy Margo, chartered physiotherapist from London says not to wear heels or flat shoes all the time but to wear variety of heel heights that can keep the muscle in right length (Anon., 2010). Secondly, the researchers and scientists have found out that performing some regular stretching activities can minimise the issue of calf muscle tightening.
- Stand on tiptoes on a step, and using a handrail for balance to lower their heels as far as they can and hold the position for 10 – 15 seconds.
- Strengthening the Tibialis anterior (Shin Muscle) muscle can be of a help (Toe Raise) for a count of 8 – 10 Repetitions 2 -3 sets a day says the Sports Scientist.
Calf Stretch Toe Raise Strengthening.
Select footwear with low heels – an inch and a half or lesser while a wider heel base can be of more help; a slightly thicker heel will spread the load more evenly. Narrow, stiletto-type heels provide little support and three inch or higher heels may shorten (Tighten) the Achilles tendon.
Softer insoles can reduce the impact on the knees.
Selecting right size footwear is more essential. Wearing shoes that allow your body to move naturally during walking will allow your feet, legs, hips and back to stretch.
Stretch your muscles as many times as possible during the day and while during rest.
Do not let your sense of style cripple your ability to stand or step pain-free. “Your feet are, quite literally, your base of support. If your feet aren’t happy, nothing above them will be,” says Dr. Nevins. “Take a closer look at your shoe selection and take small steps now to prevent big foot problems later.” (Nevins, 2015). In addition to all these the above exercises as a regular routine will keep the muscles in the right length and can be used as the preventive factor.
Anon., 2010. BBC News. [Online]
Available at: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-10651020
[Accessed 23 June 2015].
Morin, M., n.d. Director of podiatric medicine, Hackensack University Medical Center: s.n.
Nevins, D., 2015. American Osteopathic Association. [Online]
Available at: http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/womens-health/Pages/high-heels.aspx
[Accessed 23 June 2015].