Long Term Effects of Wearing High Heels & How to Mitigate the Harmful Effects of High Heels

No matter what may be the age, high heels are a part of every women closet! But have you ever wondered, these “killer heels” can severely affect your body over time making a plain walk difficult! Yes, you heard it right! Going in by recent studies, there can be some shocking and detrimental long term effects of wearing high heels. Right from painful blisters to something as grave as sciatica, you might not be aware the cost your body will have to bear for few moments of happiness and fashion. Let us look at some long term effects of wearing high heels and learn how to mitigate the harmful effects.

Long Term Effect of Wearing High Heels

Long Term Effect of Wearing High Heels

Majority of problems that arise in perennial heel wearers are a result of excessive pressure over lower body particularly front foot, ankles and calves. Higher heels tend to worsen the situation severely affecting back, hips and knees too. Other common problems that women usually report include toe outgrowths, scaled skin patches, bunions etc. Sometimes, too tight fitting heels can result in hammer toes, causing permanent bent and disfiguration of foot muscles while becoming shorter in length.

Here are some of the long term effects of wearing high heels.

Long Term Effect of Wearing High Heels on Feet

  • Wearing high heels divert all your body mass over fragile toe bones thereby leading to problems. In the normal case, feet act as shock absorbers cushioning your body and skeleton from pounding effect. This balance mechanism tends to get disturbed after wearing high heels.
  • Moreover, higher heels like stilettos and pumps tend to worsen the situation by amplifying the toe pressure for more than 30 percent.

The heel-toe balance gets highly disturbed thereby leading you to a staccato like walk. Being in this position for long could bring in nerve damage and even lead to painful blisters. These are the commonest long term effects of wearing high heels, experienced by most women.

Calves and Ankle Pressure

While the pressure on the foot elevates, the muscles around the outer legs tend to work harder to balance the unnatural stanch, thereby becoming weak, fatigued and escalating the chances of ankle sprains and swelling. While high heels definitely give you the much aspired height and a desired shape, they shorten the calf muscles by making changes around joints, tendons and muscles causing discomfort and pain even in regular flat wear. The resulting long term effects of wearing high heels hence include calf and ankle pain, with difficulty in walking.

  • When you wear heels, your ankles tend to bend forward, thereby restricting blood circulation over lower limbs. For regular heel wearers, this could lead to development of varicose veins.
  • They are basically swelled up veins which can protrude out of the skin and appear either dark red or blue in color. They can appear anywhere in the body most prominent being around the legs called żylaki nóg. Normally, they are not considered as serious health problems but as a part of long term effects of wearing high heels, can cause pain and discomfort around the legs, swelling and discoloration of the skin.
  • Over time, calves can get taut and disfigure in shape making walk even in plain flats too painful and agonized.

Long Term Effect of Wearing High Heels on Knees

Knees being the largest joint in human body have a great role to play in maintaining body stanch and balance which can get disturbed due to the long term effect of high heels. Regular high heel wearers may eventually have knee pain and difficulty in standing for too long. Too much pressure on the insides can cause your knees to stress often increasing the probability of arthritis.

High Heel Effects on Back

Sore lower back is a problem that can figuratively arise as long term effects of wearing high heels. Due to higher pressure over the front foot, body spine sways a little unnaturally to manage the body weight. This in turns increases pressure to spine muscles thereby causing soreness and discomfort in the back. As this can create an imbalance in the back and upper thigh muscles, it can result in nerve compression. Sciatica, which causes pain, numbness or tingling along the back of the leg, can result from long term effects of wearing high heels.

Just like other body parts, the back needs its share of rest which is deprived due to the effect of high heels like pumps and stilettos. Even if you wear high heels for long, make sure you strictly avoid them for next entire week. Also, do take breaks in between and avoid strenuous walking for longer duration.

How to Mitigate the Harmful Effect of High Heels?

In order to mitigate the harmful effect, of heel, it is best to go for heels that are thicker at the sole so that they can help in even weight distribution. Wearing soft insoles is also a good way to reduce the pressure on knees, provided that the fit should be ideal without any gaps for the foot to bent forward and create toe pressure at the front.

  • In case you are wearing high heels like those designer pumps or stilettoes, practice a little walking around the house to let your feet get accustomed to more strenuous activities coming like dancing etc. But make sure to avoid running in heels, as that could worsen the pressure over front foot.
  • Using shoe inserts that come with most heels is also a great way to mitigate the harmful effects of high heels.
  • Cannot resist in the temptation for heels, choose wedges as they are safer and tend to put lesser pressure over front foot.
  • Practice ankle and calf muscle exercises and some stretching to restore flexibility and maintain balance. Keeping your muscles strong and supple is necessary to mitigate the harmful effects of high heels.

Women wear heels for a lot of occupational, social and aesthetic reasons. While, advising them to completely stop doing could act futile, there is definitely a need for awareness. A balance of rest, exercises and alternative foot wear when possible can help women overcome the harmful effects of high heels.

Knowing about the long term effects of wearing high heels can help women decide what is best for them and plan accordingly. Approaches that help to mitigate the harmful effects of high heels can help when it is utmost necessary for women to wear high heels. Also, in event of leg, knee or back pain, it is important to seek medical advice for appropriate treatment.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 7, 2017

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