Women in heels say that it takes just over an hour for the pain to kick in. But high heels don’t just hurt your feet, they can do some serious harm to your body. And so can flat and tight shoes.
Find out here how to limit the damage that different shoes can do to your body.
HIGH HEELS: THE DANGERS:
You might enjoy strutting your stuff, but raising your ankles for prolonged periods can shorten your calf muscles. Pushing your hips forwards with an arching back can lead to lower back pain and eventually joint problems like osteoarthritis.
WHAT TO DO:
Simple exercises like picking up marbles with your toes can help strengthen your feet to stand up to the punishment. Try calf stretches after a day in stilettos. And wearing the same height heels increases the risks most of all – so mix it up!
FLAT SOLES, BALLET PUMPS & FLIP FLOPS: THE DANGERS:
These are not the safer option. They make you strike the ground hard with your heel, which can damage the shock-absorbing fat pad. Your foot is at more of an unnatural right-angle to your leg, which puts extra tension on your Achilles tendon. This can cause damage in the long term, giving you tendinosis. Flat shoes also increase tension in a band of tissue along your arch, causing a painful condition called Policeman’s heel.
If you’re naturally flat footed or tend to overpronate (roll your foot inwards), you’ll be particularly prone to these problems.
WHAT TO DO:
A tight calf puts extra strain on the Achilles tendon, so stretch your calf out after wearing flats. Try inserting an orthotic insole into your shoes to support your foot’s natural arch and introduce a slight angle as you walk. These are available from most pharmacies, or some people have them made specially.
TIGHT SHOES: THE DANGERS
As you age, your arch tends to lower, making your foot spread out. Weight gain can also widen your foot. Shoes that are too narrow across the front of the foot can cause pain. Shoes that are too short, particularly around the toes, can rub against your skin and give you corns, calluses and bunions. People who can’t freely pivot their body over their big toe might change the way they walk to compensate, which can cause pain in their lower back.
People who have lost sensation in their feet, like those with diabetes, are especially vulnerable, as they can’t feel their shoes rubbing and can develop painful foot ulcers.
WHAT TO DO:
Always make sure new shoes fit. In particular, check the widest part of the shoe matches the widest part of your foot. Shoes with a fastening are better than slip-ons, as they tend to hold the foot against the back of the shoe, leaving room for the toes to wriggle freely.
Article by Miss Gabriel Weston
(Surgeon & writer)