Sky-high heels can be killer.
You can’t deny the leg appeal – longer, leaner and sexier. And there’s a tower of power phenomenon too: Confidence comes from the sole, reveals a British study by Compeed. Heels raise self-esteem and assertiveness.
Well, they might look pretty, but they can be pretty bad for you. New scientific evidence proves there’s a tall toll on leg muscles when taking a walk on the wildly high side.
Leg biomechanics are altered, including walking with shorter more forceful strides, resulting in muscle pain and increased chance of strain injuries, reports a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology.
Pain for gain? You can bet women will still kick up their heels. Heels offer a high beyond added height.
“I love high heels because they empower me. All of a sudden my posture is perfect and I feel on top of the world,” says Crissi Giamos, a self-confessed heelaholic. “Ain’t no heel high enough!”
Standing 5-foot-4, her highest heel is 7 inches. “But they have a platform and a wedge heel so my feet are balanced.”
Fancy footwork is Giamos’ downfall – she owns at least 1,000 pairs of shoes. “I work for Town Shoes – possibilities and quantities are endless.”
Giamos adds that because most of her high heels have platforms or are a wedge heel, they’re comfortable and injury risk is minimized. Plus she adds gel insoles for added comfort.
Giamos, who is also public relations director for The Shoe Company, loves all her shoes but if she had to pick one, her heart belongs to a dazzling style called Zigi NY.
“I stare at it more than I wear it. Seriously, I have it on display in my dressing room!”
Toronto resident Leesa Butler is Giamos’ sole sister.
“High heels change everything, the way I stand, walk, move…There is an immediate power to my stature.”
Butler already stands 5-foot-10 and often slips on 4- to 5-inch heels – sometimes even hitting 6 inches. “I’m hard to miss in heels – I like that. I can find anyone in a crowd!”
She loves her 100-plus array of heels and “I love that my husband loves me in heels. The higher the better,” adds Butler, of f-list.ca and Fashion Group International.
Meanwhile, think “stocks and stilettos” for Toronto financial guru Linda Leatherdale, who even brings haute heel couture to the country.
“I have fished in high heel shoes just outside of Algonquin Park, walked down country roads in stilettos, and even cleaned my house in a pair of high-heeled boots because I thought company would arrive before the task was completed.”
According to the Cambria executive, high-heeled shoes tone her leg muscles and, “like a great pair of skates or ballet shoes, can perfect performance.”
Leatherdale is hooked on heels.
“Honestly, I feel my best in heels, and when my feet need a break I give them a break. Sometimes, I feel like I am walking on clouds, even in high-heeled shoes.”
The aesthetic benefits are a big draw, says Dr. Joseph Pratile, as wearing heels arches the lower back and enhances the female physique. They can even offer legs a good workout, but keep moderation in mind and use with caution.
“Most high heels do not offer arch support, fatigue the plantar fascia and foot muscles as they have to work really hard to keep the shoes on, may contribute to back pain, foot pain, difficulty walking and increased chance of slips and falls and other foot problems,” says Pratile, a chiropractor at Vita Integrative Health Clinic in Toronto.
Practice safe sole: Consider orthotics and shoes with wider toe spaces and tighter heel surrounds, says Pratile.
Step into 2-inch heels or higher, he says, and you’re possibly courting everything from foot/muscle pain, calluses, blisters, ingrown toenails and corns to pump bumps (painful, swollen bumps behind the foot, where the shoe heel rubs against the back of the ankle), bunions, hammertoes, ankle sprains and shortened Achilles tendon.
Many acute and chronic foot disorders/pain can be managed and treated with Shockwave Therapy, he adds.