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Dec 17, 2009

Healthy Living walks to the doctor’s office in high heels

Story PictureEarlier this year there was an event called “Walk a mile in her shoes”. It called on men to don a pair of women shoes and show solidarity for victims of gender based violence. But here’s a bit of advice, if she wears more than two inches in heels you may want to think again. This week’s Healthy Living looks at an issue that has been long speculated, the effects of wearing high heel shoes.

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting
In the early fifteen hundreds a fourteen year old girl, slipped on the first formal pair of high heels. Catherine de Medici, who was a little less than five feet, found a way to detract attention from her short stature by lengthening her physique and adding an alluring sway to the way that she walked. Whether people found her more attractive is yet to be said but one thing is for sure, the addition of inches to a woman’s length by high heels took off like a wild fire. In these days, heels come in every shape, color and height, all fitting the different personalities of the women who wear them.

The reasons for why women choose to wear heels vary. Some feel it completes the professional look. Some love the assumed sex appeal that is tied to it and some wear them for the same reason as Catherine did in the fifteen hundreds, to increase their height. The underlying fact is that a woman is deemed to be more attractive if she is “well heeled.”

Dr. Francis Smith, Orthopedic Surgeon
“In today’s corporate world, most women think that they may be very intelligent persons they stand a better chance if they look attractive meaning that they have sex appeal. So lots of exhaustive studies have been done which show that men think that the average woman whose height is about five feet, four inches looks better when the measurement taken from the top of the inner thigh to the heel is thirty and a half inches, which is actually five percent longer than your normal height.”

Dr. Francis Smith is a practicing orthopedic surgeon. He explains why the balancing act of wearing a pair of stilettos is actually a hazard to your health.

Dr. Francis Smith
“There is much reason for concern and it is terribly damaging to a woman’s body. Problem is that the damage is insidious it takes a long time, so its years before you’re going to see the results of wearing high heels shoes. It increases the lordotic curve which is that natural curve you have in your back and increases the lordosis, which is a cause of back pain and especially so with pregnant women. It provokes you’re center of mass or your center of gravity to be thrown forward so again you have to lean forward, your knees have to bend a little and so it affects your knees as well and it produces, over a period, of time scarring down or a flexion contracture of the knee. Which simply means that you’re hamstrings at the back tighten, scar down, and after twenty/thirty years of wearing high heels, we see women who can’t straighten their knees. It’s so tight.”

The heels also cause the muscles of the calf, thigh and the gluteal muscles to look firmer but that’s not necessarily a good thing, ladies. The strain on the muscles results in scarring. This means the loss of flexibility in the muscles and ligaments. It strains the calf muscles, shortens the Achilles tendon, which is the cord at the back of the heel and this same scarring of the connective tissue on the bottom of the foot leads to what we commonly know as heel spurs.

Dr. Francis Smith
“With the natural foot there are tendons, muscles, ligaments that keep your bones in perfect alignment. When you’re upon high heel shoes, this alignment is not there. It’s totally abnormal so it will produce pressure on your metatarsals heads. It will deteriorate them which means they will become a bit arthritic, the cartilage wears out and it will produce clawing of your toes.”

Also corns and calluses are the body’s reaction to the pressure on the skin; the thickened skin is scar tissue. While they can be removed, it would not address the underlying cause.

Dr. Francis Smith
“These things the option may be surgical but whenever we can make the foot look beautiful again but we take away some function. So your foot becomes nice looking but stiff perhaps. So for those people who like dancing or jogging you won’t do with a non-functional foot. My recommendation would be to switch now because you’d want at least to be switching when these changes in your foot are reversible. After twenty/thirty years the changes are irreversible.”

And if you absolutely cannot give up the allure of a few more inches to those legs, here are some recommendations from Dr. Smith.

Dr. Francis Smith
“Try to avoid high heels that are more than two inches. If you’re at work, you can use it when you’re outside your office to engage the public but when you’re inside you can perhaps change them and put on something more comfortable. If you need to wear high heels perhaps not more than two inches and you want a toe box that can accommodates the entire metatarsal area.”

Marleni Cuellar
“Which is the front of your shoe?”

Dr. Francis Smith
“Exactly. You don’t want these pointed shoes that are very much in fashion because those are the most damaging. You’re sure to end up with hammer toes and mallet toes especially on your fourth and fifth toes with the shoes that are pointed.”

Lastly, Dr. Smith emphasized that if you do currently wear heels you must ensure that you do heel stretches everyday after removing your heels. Tip-toeing and heel stretches will help to assists the muscles in maintaining normal anatomy giving back your tendons and your ligaments their stretch ability so it won’t tear so easily.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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