“If it’s uncomfortable, it’s bound to look good!”
This statement is the mantra for many a fashionista who prefer glamorous denial to all the red signals screaming out “Unhealthy!” as they glide by in their six inch Jimmy Choos.
There is no doubt about it - high heels do wonders for the illusion of never-ending legs, and a Page 3 posture. While you are saving up for the next pair of Manolo Blahnik, keep aside a small sum for some health insurance too. For, in those high heels – you are only headed towards Disasterville.
And it isn’t just the discomfort that we are talking about – “it is the long term health issues that crop up as you prop yourself up in those stately shoes”, says Dr P K Dave, head of the department, orthopedics, Rockland Hospital. You can't even walk without wobbling in those heels, yet you had to have them. In fact, many women prefer to suffer pain and discomfort for the sake of fashion and miscalculate the health risks of high-heeled shoes, adds Dave.
You need to deal with the fact that nature never meant your feet to be propped up in stilettos. When heels over just two inches can affect the natural way you walk, imagine heels higher than three inches! They eventually put seven times the pressure on the ball of your foot and can harm the bones.
It is not just while running to catch a bus that heels show their impractical side. Women in their race towards fashion turn a blind eye to all the ankle sprains, knee and back problems and injuries from falls. A study published in the issue of The Lancet, demonstrates that wide heels increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the knee as much as, or more than, spindly-heeled stilettos.
"Wide-heeled shoes give you the perception of more stability when you're standing, and they feel comfortable, so women wear them all day long," an official confirmed. "They are better for your feet than stiletto heels, but just as bad for your knees."
Add to that a gamut of other foot complaints - from blisters to heel pain to deformities. Yet, according to a study, 39 percent of women wear high heels every day. And within this group, nearly three out of four reported ‘walking into’ a shoe-related problem – some of which are -
• Blisters, corns or calluses develop as high heels throw weight into the ball of your foot.
• Lower back pain is caused when your spine bends backwards to balance the forward push of your body when you hike in heels.
• Pain in the ball of your foot, a condition called metatarsalgia, can arise from high heels.
• Ankle sprains are more probable as your foot position in heels and the often-narrow heel width can make ankles unbalanced.
• Achilles tendonitis is a threat. Regular wearing of heels shortens and tightens calf muscles. This can cause painful inflammation of the Achilles tendon at the back of your heel.
• Benign tumors of nerves, called neuromas, can develop between toes. Symptoms include sharp pain and tingling or lack of sensation of the toes.
• "Pump bump," or Hagland's deformity, has been connected to women who frequently wear high heels. This painful bump on the back of the heel bone occurs when the bone rubs against the shoe or when a narrow, pointed shoe makes toes curl up.
Wearing heels all the time causes your foot to become used to the position of heels and can then can make even wearing flats impossible. There are still tricks that you can apply – they might seem mundane, though you will still be a Madonna. If asking for a compromise is not a little bit too much while you are in the sacred journey to join the divas in the highest echelons of Fashiondom, here are a few tips you can adhere to.
• Mix in flats as well as some low pumps to your every day shoe wardrobe. Wear your high heels on special occasions.
• Wear flats when walking distances. You can get your heels to change into once you reach where you're going.
• Take smaller steps when walking in high heels. Put your heel down first and then try and glide to lessen the damage to your feet.
• Buy some short, chunky heels with enough room for your toes. Lower heels typically give you more steadiness, better shock absorption and greater comfort.
• Avoid wearing backless heels for too long since they strain your muscles. A strap or laces over the instep will also prevent feet from sliding forward.
• Stretch your calf, heel and foot muscles to help them loosen up and boost the range of movement. Treat them to a soak or massage at the end of the day.
On an end note, beauty and health share a symbiotic relationship – though extreme fashion can sometimes tilt the balance askew. Besides, who needs to be a ‘walking disaster,’ right?
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