Diamonds aside, shoes have been known to be the other girl’s best friend, and the heels fall in there. From the Hollywood celebrities to the girl next to your desk, we all love to have on a sleek pair of heels. Unfortunately, that they are hazardous to our health is no myth.
According to Dr Edward Naddumba, the director of the China–Uganda Friendship Hospital, Naguru, who is also an orthopaedic surgeon, high heels and stilettos cause a numbers of ailments. “These shoes cause a change in the upright posture of the body, since the feet are not well balanced.
The body parts that are seriously affected by wearing high heels are the heels themselves, the knees, hips, back and the joints,” he explains.
Should we then give up the luxurious footwear, or is there a way to wear them in a healthy way? Dr Naddumba provides tips on minimising the health risks when you wear heels;
Vary the heels
Do not stick to stilettos all the time, but rather switch them with wedges and low heels. “When you vary the shoes, it gives the feet some rest whereas sticking to the very high heels instead increases the strain on the feet,” says the doctor, adding, “Do not wear these shoes as a routine, rather do it occasionally and do not keep them on for a long time,” he concludes. Wedge heels are a great alternative. They provide more stability than stilettos.
Carry an extra pair with you
For an instant variety, carry a pair of flat comfortable shoes with you to change into after hours of wearing heels. For instance, if one is wearing heels to the office, you can carry flat shoes and change when you get to your desk.
Do not keep them on for long
Dr Naddumba says heels become dangerous when one wears them for long hours, say 24 hours straight. This is because the feet are raised and the body is not balanced, as a resultantly straining the muscles.
Instead wear them in the morning hours, for a meeting or formal occasion, and take them off later in the day.
frugivoremag.com, an online magazine, recommends these tips:
Wear in soles
Sometimes, the manufactured soles of shoes (especially heels) are just not enough. To add extra comfort, purchase a pair of in-soles. There are a variety to choose from.
Be sure to stretch
Doing yoga poses such as High and Low Lunge and Standing Forward Fold will stretch your calves, hip flexors, and hamstring muscles.
Pay attention to shape
Square boxed heels allow your feet to sit more naturally than in pointed ones. To avoid toe injury and pain all together, go for open toe shoes (if weather permits, of course).
Visit a chiropractor, podiatrist
As experts of spine and joints disorders, and the care of the human foot, these can assist you stay pain and injury free.
Health effects of high heels on your body
Dr Edward Naddumba explains that regardless of whether it is a wedge or stiletto, the danger arises from the height of the heel from the ground. Wearing high heels causes bad curvature of the back and the spine to go into hyper extension, exposing the wearer to developing chronic back pain. Naddumba cites obese women as the most prone to these effects, mostly because of their weight.
• The high heels cause strain to the hips when one is walking and as a result increase the risk of developing arthritis.
• High heels strain the calf muscles and as a result, the chronic pains will develop. Not to mention the increased risk of falling that could cause serious injuries to the ankle and the ligaments at that joint.
• On the severity of these effects, Dr Naddumba says they are quite serious, and are in most situations irreversible.
Designers’ coping tips
I wear heels once in a while. They make you elegant, smart, and to stand out. I have a knee problem so I cannot wear heels for long.
How I cope: I usually buy those from the top designers because, although they may seem expensive, they are more comfortable and have pads in them that are meant to balance the feet.
I wear heels only to functions, because my kind of work requires me to be on my feet all day. Heels make one look elegant and also help in toning one’s legs and stomach. They can be uncomfortable and tiring, especially if one is not used to them.
How I cope: I occasionally switch between the heels and sandals. The right fitting shoe is also a bit more tolerable.
I wear heels everywhere. I own only two or three pairs of flat shoes. From what I learnt while growing up, and my training, heels make a woman look nice and elegant. They, however, sometimes cause blisters around the toes, especially if you have them on for long hours, and strain the ankles.
How I cope: I go for a massage once or twice a week. I also carry a pair of sandals in my car, and switch from the heels when I am driving since I cannot drive in six-inch shoes.
I try to stay away from heels when I can but wear them to formal occasions, meetings and work. They make a woman look elegant and appear taller.
I think women cannot do without them. I hate that some times, your feet may begin to hurt when you ave had on for so long, yet you are usually not in position to change them.
How I cope: I usually carry a pair of flat shoes around, especially to work. I then switch from the heels to the flats when I get to work.