I’ve got a little list

  • Postural Misalignment (spinal joint anomalies and disc damage)
  • Increased Forefoot Pressure
  • Increased Knee Joint Pressure (possible osteoarthritis)
  • Shortened Calf Muscle
  • Morton’s Neuroma
  • Shortened Achilles Tendon
  • Bunions
  • Hammertoes
  • Ankle Injuries
  • Metatarsalgia

The above stresses deformities and injuries are all foreseeable and even inevitable consequences of longterm wearing of high heeled shoes. This is stuff I learnt in my first year of physiotherapy (I already knew the basic back pain and bunions stuff (blisters are so obvious they were hardly even talked about) but our biomechanics classes added a litany of painful detail). Since then I have only ever worn high heels on special occasions where I knew I didn’t have to walk far.

An infographic from the WaPo showing damaging effects of long-term high-heels wearing

Click here to view the WaPo infographic

The Washington Post has a great diagram up of how all the above comes from a pair of high heels. Check out the accompanying article as well (via Feministing).
ADDIT: zuzu at Feministe has more on this article, including a critique of one aspect of the graphic which didn’t leap out at me.

Categories: gender & feminism, health

Tags: , ,

11 replies

  1. That’s a pretty cool diagram. Whilst I’m sure there are still problems, I’m curious as to how many of the high-heels caused problems are also caused by shoes or boots with a heel that’s actually, well, heel-sized, albeit high.

  2. Yes but Tigtog, don’t you understand that high heels (aka ‘f*ck-me shoes’) sexily emphasise your calf muscles and make your arse wiggle provocatively? Sheesh, woman, focus on the important things.

  3. … ouch…
    Have to confess I’ve almost always opted for comfort over fashion in any case. I no longer wear heels at all – it’s hard enough finding shoes that fit over a permanently swollen right foot (two breaks of the same bone 20 years apart seem to be the cause) without trying to wear something with a heel! I’ve always preferred barefoot anyway, although obviously it’s not always practicable.

  4. I’m curious as to how many of the high-heels caused problems are also caused by shoes or boots with a heel that’s actually, well, heel-sized, albeit high.
    There do tend to be fewer probs for several reasons:
    a) chunkier heels have better shock absorption within themselves on the heelstrike and also transmit the heelstrike impact more broadly throughout the shoe/boot and thus the bony structure of the foot/shin/knee itself.
    b) lots of chunkier heeled footwear has a good chunky elevator or platform under the forefoot as well, meaning that the various musculoskeletal alignment issues are lessened compared to a spike heeled sandal.
    c) provides a more stable platform so that there tend to be fewer instances of injury due to overbalancing.
    Particularly bunions, hammertoes and Morton’s neuroma in particular would be less likely through avoiding spike heels and opting for chunkier heels with elevated forefoot as well..

  5. That’s as clear a diagram as any of us need to convince us to wear flatties. Watching the Shoes episode of “The IT Crowd” should also do it.
    As an aside, what are your thoughts on this tigtog? In the diagram, the “correct” image has the woman wearing flat-heeled, but slip on shoes – which I thought were almost as bad for causing hammertoes. Should we avoid of these, too?

  6. I hadn’t heard that about slide-ons. At a guess, I wouldn’t think that slide-ons would lead to hammertoes – certainly when I have worn them I have ended up with cramps in my toes, especially if they were loose fitting across the instep, and that’s hardly comfortable.
    But the mechanism for hammertoes is different, because although the angle of the toe phalanges might look similiar, the angle of the metatarsal and the proximal phalanx at the ball of the foot are not at all the same.
    X-ray image of foot bones in high heels
    Diagram of foot in flatter position – even if toes are scrunched up in slide-ons, the angle of the metatarsal is completely different. (The diagram is from a site on plantar fasciitis, which is another common condition in women with tightened calf musculature due to habitual wearing of high heels.)

  7. I’ve made a big effort since I first saw a podiatrist about my feet to wear “sensible” shoes. But I haven’t found any that I’d not feel embarassed to wear with a skirt suit. So I’ve given up wearing skirts to work, something I find quite sad.
    Mind you, I’ve never worn proper heels – but even court shoes I find uncomfortable compared with lace-ups, and I’ve decided that life is too short to have uncomfortable feet all day.

  8. My first pay packet went on a pair of Mary Quant low heels after two weeks of walking home from the station on spikes.
    I love looking at great shoes but that’s it. With knee replacements any heel higher than 5cm is dangerous along with a narrow foot base. HomeyPeds are now bringing out some classy low heels and the price is pricey but they last for years.

  9. I am in Tennessee now but bought/wore homeypeds while in New South Wales. Where could I order some from?

  10. I don’t know whether they export them or not, because they seem to have some sort of sole agent deal with pharmacies here in Oz. There’s contact details on their website though, and I noticed in my search that some are for sale on E-Bay.

  11. I was looking at 9/11 articles for something i was doing for the anniversary and descriptions of female office workers “trying to get down the stairs in their heels” cropped up again and again.
    As ‘tog said elsewhere you can make all the laws you like but if “culture” and “traditions” haven’t changed too there is still going to be a lot of problems – look at China where footbinding continued long after it was outlawed – or Egypt today where the government is trying to end FGM but the people are ignoring the law.

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