Why you should take a vacation from those sexy high heels

11 September 2017 - 14:01 By Suthentira Govender
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

Being “well-heeled” could be detrimental to your health.

New research has shown a link between high heels‚ foot deformity‚ osteoarthritis and other injury.

A comprehensive review of a host of studies on the health effects of high heels‚ published in the journal BMC Public Health‚ has found that while high heels “bring psychosexual benefits to women‚ they are detrimental to their health”.

“The … review provides clear evidence of an association between high heel wear and foot deformity‚ musculoskeletal pain and first-party injury‚” researchers found‚ adding that high heels increased the risk of osteoarthritis.

Specialist orthopaedic surgeon Dr Rhinesh Chetty warned that wearing high heels caused “abnormal foot biomechanics”.

“With constant use of these types of shoes it eventually causes micro damage to the front‚ middle and back of the foot."

He said if bunions and hammer toes - a deformity which causes a toe to bend or curl downwards - develop it means that you are using high heels too often and this can lead to metatarsalgia‚ a condition in which the ball of the foot becomes painful and inflamed. He said this in turn can start a vicious cycle that can lead to stress fractures and ligament ruptures and possibly to permanent foot damage and deformity.

“Limit time in high heels and if you develop active pain and swelling you may need a vacation from your heels.”

Limit time in high heels and if you develop active pain and swelling you may need a vacation from your heels
Dr Rhinesh Chetty, orthopaedic surgeon 

Chetty said “surgery should be last resort as it can cause worsening pain despite having a better looking foot. Foot surgery is also notorious for delayed wound healing.”

Shoe designer Devan Odayan‚ a local footwear manufacturer explained that high heels with narrow fronts exerted immense pressure on toes‚ often accompanied by musculoskeletal pain and‚ in some cases‚ deformity.

“Due to the unnatural angle‚ abnormal pressure is also borne by the foot’s heel‚ causing a detrimental knock-on effect on knee joints.

“It has also been shown that high heels cause unnatural bending of the knees and if worn for long periods‚ can shorten the posterior leg muscles. The Achilles tendon may also be damaged and back pain is a common symptom.”

Odayan said women were increasingly embracing the “boyfriend” fashion trend by wearing more comfortable masculine clothes and shoes.

South African women are divided on ditching their heels.

One fashionista who asked not to be named said she had no plans to kick her heels.

“I personally do not have any health issues associated with wearing heels. I love my heels and will never give them up.

“The key is finding good comfortable ones."

But Johannesburg attorney Serisha Azaria Moodley has given hers the boot.

“I have ditched mine and its the most liberating thing I’ve done. Unless you have an amazingly comfortable pair of heels‚ I don’t really think it’s worth the pain.

“Of course there are numerous studies that show the adverse effects on your lower back and the effect on your feet but that wasn’t really my motivation‚” said Moodley.

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