High Heels – A Blessing from God or a Curse?

High heels, good looking legs, great posture and pain-free - can you have it all?

A great set of high heels which makes your outfit “complete” does wonders for a woman’s confidence. Right or wrong, shoes can change the way a woman (and a man) feels about themselves. They lengthen the appearance of your legs, accentuate the calves, make you taller, and make you gently sway your hips when you walk.

But what are the physical ramifications?

There are plenty of health professionals who would be quick to say high heels are “bad” for you. And it would be the safe thing to do – High heels have been linked with and increase in the number of ankle injuries, falls and pain in the feet, legs, back and neck.

So is it a dilemma? Do you have to choose between your favourite set of heels or a pain free life? Well, that is the point of this article – to find out what the real story is.

The Good:

Here are 10 reasons I found on Google at a site called High Heels For You – I have reproduced their words here…I thought it accurately portrays what many women tell me 🙂

10 reasons why you must wear high heels

1. High heels make you tall
This is the weakest reason, though. Heels add height, and it helps in case a lady is short in built.2. High heels make you look slim
This too is a slightly weak argument, but it is true. When you wear high heels, the added height gives you a slightly better height:girth ratio. The upright posture helps you look slimmer in two more ways: by giving you the right curves when you stand or walk and by increasing your height.3. High heels complement most outfits
High heels usually add to the overall get up. Many garments, especially the tight fitting legwear, look gorgeous in high heels. By slightly pushing the chest forward, they also make the skirt / blouse look more eye-catching.4. High heels accentuate your legs’ beauty
When legs are of the right shape, their beauty increases manifold on high heels. Uncovered or tightly dressed legs look very sexy with high heels.

5. High heels are an object of desire
High heels are traditionally worn during parties and not at home and in offices. They are also worn by beauty queens, models and film stars and not by house maids. As a small girl, you had seen high heeled ladies around you or on TV / films / etc, you developed a craving for high heels and it satisfies you when you have a new pair of heels and you can flaunt them. So, wearing quality high heel gives a high just because you have such an object of desire.

6. High heels are works of art
Will you feel great if you put just a piece of concrete under your heel and stand on it? No. High heels of good brands and design are truly works of art. Irrespective of what else you wear, beautifully crafted high heels in themselves are worth putting on.

7. High heels draw attention
What fun is fashion if it is not noticed and complimented? What fun is it if men’s eyes are not fixed on them? Beautiful high heels cannot remain without being noticed. In addition, the sound high heels make when you walk in them also seems to subconsciously arouse feminine attraction in men.

8. High heels make you feel powerful
Getting noticed and complimented not only makes you feel beautiful, it makes you feel important and powerful.

9. Wear high heels because most others are wearing them
Except in situations that don’t welcome flashy high heels for health / comfort or social reasons [outing in hills and sea beaches, when pregnant, at funerals, etc], wear high heels because most other ladies would be wearing them.

10. High heels make you look and feel sexy
This is the most important, and an all-inclusive, reason: a pair of sexy high heels makes you look and feel sexy. Part of it is because you are conscious that your heels are being notices, part because you are being appreciated for the heels, part because you get a sexy posture by wearing them.

Hmm, probably shouldn't be wearing heels

The Bad:

Back pain, foot pain, heel pain, shortened calves, increased risk of falls/fractures/sprains, bunions, nerve damage to toes, etc

Need I go on?

The point is that there are lots of different aches, pains and injuries that high heels can cause.

So now what? Do I or Don’t I?

Good question!

You see, it is too easy for me to condemn them in a wholesale kind of way. I think it is a lazy way to give advice. If we all did what was “best” for us, we wouldn’t lead very fun lives.

By the same token, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a health professional properly if I didn’t point out all the risks and problems associated with wearing high heels.

Still, I believe you can wear high heels and still be relatively safe…but you have to be careful.

The Physiodetective Way:

The way I prefer to look at this issue is to ask the following questions (among others of course!)

1. Are you strong enough to walk around on your toes all day?

2. Do you spend enough time out of your heels so you don’t get shortened calves?

3. Can you maintain good posture in your heels?

4. Can you maintain good posture out of your heels?

5. Does your body move properly in heels?

You see, it all depends on Y O U.

If you have good posture, the strength to maintain it, good calf length and your body is able to efficiently bear all the load you give it, then I would argue you can wear high heels safely.

There are definitely increased risks of ankle injuries, falls and pain but these usually occur because your body can’t cope in the heels.

You need a thorough assessment for a proper answer:

Get yourself a proper assessment. This should be from the toes all the way to the head and neck. It should look at every joint in the “kinetic chain” to see if there is a failure in your body of accepting the loads in high heels.

Perfect Posture in Heels

Are there people strong enough?

Yes there are!

Far too many people should not wear high heels – I would prefer to educate them and get them stronger through our specialized and individual exercise classes we conduct at the clinic.

But there are plenty of people who can. I see them at the clinic all the time.

The most famous recent example is Pippa Middleton – she was wearing that gorgeous white dress in heels and had perfect posture. From a physiotherapy point of view, it was beautiful.

Do you want to know if you can wear high heels?

I am happy to see anyone who wants their posture checked in their high heels. If you want to know if you can wear your heels safely, then book an appointment by calling me on +61 410 440 506

If you don’t live in Sydney, that’s ok. Comment on this blog about where you live and I can send you a message with the details of someone near you. Alternatively, you can see someone in your local area…just make sure they are of the open minded variety and can assess you from top to toe.

Until then, be careful in your heels!

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About Antony Lo
Antony Lo is an APA Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist based in Sydney. His website is www.MyPhysios.com.au. He specializes in the management, treatment and prevention of pain and dysfunction, particularly of the pelvis and ribcage. His sub-specialties include Crossfit and Exercise Performance Optimization, Ante-Natal and Post-Natal Care and difficult cases that have failed treatment elsewhere.

One Response to High Heels – A Blessing from God or a Curse?

  1. I seldom use high heels. It makes me look tall and looks great on my slacks. It also build my calves to somewhat a diamond shape. Just don’t use it too much.

    Like

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