I broke my ankle this past Tuesday in a Cary Mall, slipping on a puddle of rain water and landing in front of a store window which featured the very latest in high fashion shoes. I admired them greatly while waiting for the ambulance, wondering how it would feel to put a pair on after this painful injury. Some research while recuperating has brought to light some very good reasons for all of us to re-think our ongoing quests for a well turned calf. Prior to this, a conversation with my REX/UNC emergency room doctor brought out that recent research has shown that the long term wearing of “killer” heels is resulting in long term damage to both our feet and leg tendons. Many of these problems can occur at the same time; from hammer toes to bunions and from sciatica to permanently damaging the Achilles tendon. One in ten women wears extremely high heels at least three days a week, resulting in injury falls in a full one third of them.
Our love affair with stiletto heels began in the elegant and glamorous 1930’s, yet these shoes were worn on special occasions during this period. Today, they are more and more a part of our everyday wardrobe essentials. This long term use throws our bodies forward, increasing the pressure on the inside of our knees which can ultimately lead to arthritis. Our calf muscles naturally contract while wearing them but the long term effect can actually shorten and tighten the calf muscles permanently, causing pain from the foot to the back, and everything in between. Our Achilles tendons can shorten permanently as well, causing a painful inflammation called tendonitis. There are other problems associated with the wearing of our beloved stilettos, but we’ll finish with ankle injuries. Although flats were worn when I suffered mine, wearing high heels greatly affects your balance and increases your chances of slipping or falling. If you are older or overweight, the more severe the injury and the longer the healing time for either a sprain or a break.
If you save your stilettos for special outings and keep your heel height under three inches, your chances for both short term and long term injury is greatly diminished. There is some really good news as well. Italian research suggests that women who wear a two inch heel keep their feet at a 15 degree angle, which increases the electrical activity in the pelvic muscles. Here’s a new motto for you….Lower your heels! Improve your sex life!