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What Happens to Your Body when you wear HEELS

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This post is also available in: Portuguese (Portugal)

The average woman gets foot pain after a mere hour in pumps. But high heels impact your body beyond just making you wanna sit down. Here's how they affect different parts of your body—and why that's something you might not want to stand for anymore.

Feet

  • Feet act like spring-loaded

  • The higher the heel, the bigger the impact

  • Your heel-to-toe transition becomes abrupt

Normally, your feet act like spring-loaded, weight-distributing shock absorbers, cushioning your skeleton from crazy amounts of pounding. Jam these engineering marvels into high heels and . . .ouch. You've shifted much of your mass onto the balls of your feet and your tiny, delicate toe bones.

The higher the heel, the bigger the impact: One study found that 10cm stilettos can up the amount of pressure on the front of the foot by 30 percent or more.

Your heel-to-toe transition becomes abrupt, forcing you to swap your natural stride for a staccato walk. Strutting like this all the time could usher in bone and nerve damage (not to mention blisters and ingrown toenails).

Ankles and Calves

  • Wearing heels forces your ankles to bend forward

  • Walking in heels also stiffens your Achilles tendons

  • Stiletto devotees can develop chronically taut

Wearing heels forces your ankles to bend forward, a movement that could restrict circulation in your lower limbs. If you're a perennial high-heel wearer, this could eventually spell spider veins.

Walking in heels also stiffens your Achilles tendons, which anchor your calf muscles to your heels, causing your calves to bunch up. If you've had your tall pumps on all day, you might have trouble walking naturally when you first kick off your kicks. (You can work to offset this stiffness by flexing your feet—shoeless—several times throughout the day.)

Over time, stiletto devotees can develop chronically taut (and shortened!) ankle and calf tendons, making walking—even in flats—painful.

Knees

  • Frequent high-heel use can put extra stress on the inner sides of the knees.

  • Heels also alter muscle and tendon structure.

  • If you choose to wear heels, try not to wear them all the time and do regular stretching.

Another pro shock absorber, the knee is the largest joint in your body. It's built to take a licking, but frequent high-heel use can put extra stress on the inner sides of the knees, fast-tracking the wear and tear that leads to osteoarthritis.

Women commonly sacrifice comfort for fashion, but their choices in footwear may be causing long-term damage to their bodies, suggests a new study.

Wearing high heels, the study found, puts extra pressure on a woman's knee joints, increasing her risks for joint degeneration and osteoarthritis. As low heels become high stilettos, those risks grow.

Hips

  • High heels works the outer hip muscles and tendons hard.

  • Causes misalignment and strain.

  • Hips are forced to work much harder and longer to help you walk

To keep from keeling over in stacked shoes, you have to thrust your hips forward, arch your back, and push out your chest. That familiar sexy stance works the outer hip muscles and tendons hard (and not in a good way).

High heels force the body to stand and walk in a position that does causes misalignment and strain. This can lead to cramping and spasm of muscle groups.

They are forced to work much harder and longer to help you walk because your feet are held in a downward position (plantarflexed) and have reduced power to move your body forward.

Back

  • Your spine needs to sway unnaturally.

  • As with your other body parts, your back needs a break.

  • On a 5cm heel, the angle would be reduced to seventy degrees.

In order to sashay around in heels, your spine needs to sway unnaturally, a process that stresses your lumbar erector spinae muscle. Result: sore lower back.

As with your other body parts, your back needs a break. If you wear high pumps one day, don cushioned flats the next. Or save your spikes for special nights out—and never walk around in them for longer than a few hours at a time.

When standing barefoot, the perpendicular line of the straight body column creates a ninety degree angle with the floor. On a 5cm heel, were the body a rigid column and forced to tilt forward, the angle would be reduced to seventy degrees, and to fifty-five degrees on a 3,5cm heel. Thus, for the body to maintain an erect position, a whole series of joint adjustments (ankle, knee, hip, spine, head) are required to regain and retain one’s erect stance and equilibrium.

Wallet

  • Thousands of women need operations.

  • Common operations like bunion and corn removal, can cost € 4,500 each.

  • Balance out your heel wearing days.

Thousands of women need operations as they cannot walk properly after years of walking in stilettos.

Common operations like bunion and corn removal, which can each cost €4,500, add up to €15m a year. More complex surgery like toe straightening, which costs around €1,500 per operation, adds up to €13m in a year. A further €4m a year is spent on big toe joint replacement, €2,5m removing trapped nerves, and €200,000 correcting ingrowing toenails, the study says. NHS consultant podiatrist Emma Supple, who led the study, said: “While we love our high heels, wearing them for prolonged periods is bad news for our health and wallets.

Heaven forbid that we ban heels from our wardrobes but we want to balance out our heel wearing days, protect our bodies from future damage and avoid injuries.

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