Are you willing to pay the health price for those heels?

Dr. Angela Seabright
Stephanie Shenouda

| 3 min read

Anyone who knows me (or has seen me around the office) knows of my great love in life: shoes.
Though each pair is different and they run the gamut in color, pattern, and style, most of them are sky-high heels. In real life, I’m about 5’5”, but every morning I get a three to five inch boost courtesy of whatever pair of heels I’ve selected from my closet. Some might called me an addict, but I prefer “extreme enthusiast.”
Similar to how one might feel after an edgy new haircut or swiping on a new, bold shade of lipstick, my heels give me confidence from the minute I slip them on. I always get complimented on my shoes, though it’s usually followed by something like, “I don’t know how you wear those all day!” to which I usually shrug off as “not that big of a deal.” If I’m being honest, I do have a few pairs that are less than comfortable, but too cute to pass up, and I would be lying if I said that my heels never caused my feet any discomfort.
You could imagine my displeasure, then, when I read an article detailing the dangerous effects of my beloved stilettos. Experts say pumps can lead to a plethora of health problems, from bunions and corns from the pointy toes, to muscle pulls and pain from the hyperextension of the calf and knee caused by the recent rise in stature. It can also be bad news for your posture, because humans were evolutionarily designed to walk heel-to-toe, which isn’t possible in heels when they push your hips and spine out of alignment.
While many claim, as I do, that high heels make your legs look longer, there’s actually a very troubling direct correlation between heel size and the pressure put on your feet and ankles. A one inch kitten heel will increase pressure by 22% which can lead to irritation, soreness, and nerve damage, and the pressure skyrockets to 76% when you wear shoes with a three inch heel. I don’t even want to think about how my feet felt when they were forced into the adorable five inch silver beaded stilettos they wore all last weekend for my cousin’s wedding!
The bottom line is that while high heels are unnatural and can cause pain, most women, myself included, aren’t about to kick off their favorite pair just yet. There really is no substitution for a killer pair of kicks when you’ve got an important meeting at work or an exciting party on the weekend, and we’re willing to make the sacrifice.
If you can’t bear to part with your most recent DSW find, at least try to remedy the situation by opting for flats or sandals a few times a week, and giving your feet a break when they begin to complain. And if you need some relief in the interim, just take your shoes off under your desk. I’ll never tell.
Photo credit: wenzday01

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