Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Women in Heels: What Your Feet Are Saying

     You may have heard the quote that a lady should always keep her heels, head and standards high, but if your feet had a say, they would ask for heels to be taken off the list! In the world we live in today, there are plenty of societal pressures for the modern woman to wear fashionable shoes to work or social events. In most cases that means squeezing into a tall pair of heels that leave your feet aching and blistered by the end of the day. However, what many women don’t realize is the long-term damage they may be causing to their feet.

      Wearing tall heels puts a great deal of pressure on the ball of the foot and can cause various long and short term issues. Podiatric surgeon, Dr. Najiah Faour of Robinwood Orthopaedic Specialty Center, has a great deal of experience correcting and preventing foot troubles, ranging from Olympic athletes to children with flat feet. When it comes to your feet in heels, Dr. Faour said, “Anything over two inches is usually going to cause problems over the long run.”

Those problems can include:
  • Bunions 
  • Hammer toes 
  • Ankle weakness or sprains 
  • Ingrown toenails 
  • Blisters, calluses or corns 
  • Lower back pain 
     For women who already have bunions (a bony enlargement that appears on the side of the foot by the big toe) or hammer toes (a bone deformity in any of the three middle toes that causes them to be permanently bent), fashionable footwear options are limited. Dr. Faour recommended that women with bunions or hammer toes be evaluated by a podiatrist as those problems may need to be surgically addressed before wearing heels is even a possibility. However, Dr. Faour also said, “If they are interested in getting into a two inch heel, most padding and splint options should allow them to do that.”

     If wearing heels is unavoidable, there are several actions women can take to prevent or reduce foot injury. “Strengthening stretches and exercises are important to help strengthen ankles and arches,” said Dr. Faour. Patients who visit her office often receive handouts with descriptions and diagrams on how to perform those exercises. A simple one she frequently recommends her patients do before or after wearing heels is to run a ball, such as a tennis ball, along the length of their foot, particularly focusing on the arch. This relaxes and strengthens the arch muscles reducing the impact of heels.

     There is no question that heels are right up there with junk food- they aren’t good for you, but every now and then you can’t help but indulge! If you want to be fashionable, try to wear heels that are two inches high or less, and take precautions such as visiting a podiatrist and stretching your feet in order to prevent long-term foot damage. Silly sayings may say that wearing high heels is a third of the equation to being a lady, but the truth is, protecting your feet is more important than a fashion statement.

By: Sarah Koons

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