There have been many reports in the media debating whether or not high heel shoes are good or bad for your health. We decided to investigate ourselves…
It is often a daily dilemma, wear your favorite high heeled shoes and suffer the consequences of aching, sore feet, or wear a classically sensible shoe and feel a bit unexcited about your outfit that day. As women, our style is important to us because it is for us. If it was up to it all being about everyone else, I am sure, collectively as a female group, we would choose sweat pants, that one really soft comfy t-shirt with the holes in it, and some normal slip-on shoes; no fuss, no worry, and all of the stretchy space to sit cross legged and eat a whole pizza. But we love to feel gorgeous and fashionable and stylish. It is a creative form of expression, a way of showing a sense of self, of highlighting loved attributes and feeling incredibly empowered as a woman to be who we are.
And heels come with that package. They are not torture devices, or unnecessary money pits. Good shoes, that are crafted and sculpted to lift our legs and contour our feet into the perfect arch, are a form of art, and us goddesses get to rock them. While we should not have to live our lives with the thought that “pain is beauty” there are some aspects to wearing high heels that is less than desirable.
The lovely thing is that there are many ways to remedy these discomforts and potential issues! With all of the speculation around heels regarding health and wellness, it is important to stop and take a moment to understand that heels are not bad for your health; you are in control of how your clothes and shoes and ultimately your style affects your body. Here is a look into uncovering what is important knowledge about high heels and your health and how to maintain your unique and fabulous style.
The High Heel Health Concern
High Heels have been a point of contention for many experts for a long time now, especially when it comes to how they affect the health of our bodies. While they look incredible, many women complain about some uncomfortable pain due to prolonged wear and wonder what exactly is happening to their feet, legs and general health when wearing these popular shoes.
First, our feet are our body’s shock absorbers, so any step we make, they take on the impact our bodies make on the ground. Once we elevate our heels, we transfer the pressure from our whole foot to just the balls of our feet and our tiny toe bones. Heels also happen to change the way that we walk, instead of a heel-toe stride, we use a sort of staccato strut that can put a strain on our knees, hips, and ankles. When our feet are in a high elevated arch, our Achilles tendon and calf muscles constrict and contract, which is why after wearing heels for too long, it feels odd to walk on flat ground.
People with poor posture find that heels exacerbate that pose and can cause lower back pain, blocked off blood circulation to the legs and uncomfortable spinal conditions, because when you wear heels, your body changes it’s alignment and is stacked in a different way.
Not to mention the other small discomforts from wearing heels, the blisters and squished toes, aching arches and so forth. With all of this information, it would seem that we should all toss our high heels out the window and opt for some orthopedic slippers, but like so many health concerns, these issues can all be fixed with some simple adjustments. So don’t go selling all of your Jimmy Choo’s on eBay yet, my heelista’s, there are plenty of positive reasons to strut your stuff in those high heels.
They Tone Your Legs
Why go to the gym when you could just spend a full day walking the city streets in your favorite pair of Christian Louboutin’s and get the same sort of calf definition as an hour of circuit training?
While it might not be exactly the same, you actually do get a major leg workout from wearing heels often. You legs and calves have to compensate for the adjustment of your heel height, causing you to contract your muscles, activating them as if your were to stand on your tip toes for an extended period of time, and after many uses, actually strengthening your legs and improving their tone and appearance.
When you first put on your heels, you may notice that when you look in the mirror you can see your muscles become more defined, that isn’t just an illusion, that is your leg muscles actually training and working themselves. With regards to the shortening and tightening of your achilles tendon and your calves, that can be remedied with some simple stretching exercises before and after wearing heels.
Just like at the gym, you need to stretch sore muscles to prevent injury, and the same is true for your legs and wearing heels. Give your body the attention it deserves and you will find that many of your high heels issues will subside.
They Protect Against Ankle Problems
Contrary to popular belief, wearing heels can help to strengthen your ankles and provide more stability to your feet than not wearing them. In a study done on airline attendants by Hanseo University in South Korea, the women were required to wear heels for work and certain measurements and tests were done over a course of 4 years to determine if the flight attendants’ ankle health was jeopardized as a result of wearing the high heels.
The study showed that over time, the flight attendants’ ankle strength improved as well as their balance and stability. The height and structure of the heels caused the ankle muscles and tendons to grow stronger in order to adapt to the change. This doesn’t necessarily mean that those sexy 4 inch stilettos are going to help increase your balance to become the world’s best tight rope walker. Instead, the study suggests that moderate heel height, of up to 3 inches, is best for your body to adapt, compensate and for your ankles to actually grow stronger.
As with anything, moderation is best, and continuing to improve your strength and balance outside of wearing heels will ensure that your feet can hold up to the challenge of wearing heels.
They Improve Self Esteem
As visual creatures we want to feel beautiful whenever we can, not necessarily for other people, but for ourselves. To feel like we can embrace who we are as women and as individuals. High heels are a statement piece, an accessory that does not only complete a style but also adds a sexy confidence to a look that can be done in any other way.
Women have been wearing high heels for decades, if not longer in other cultures. They were created to enhance a woman’s physique, accentuate curves, lengthen lines and create an all-around stunning silhouette. If you are a woman who feels ultra confident wearing high heels, that is just as important to your health as wearing comfortable shoes.
Mental health needs to be tended to just as much as physical health does. So do not feel ashamed for wanting to run around town in your favorite pair of heels, or for putting up with some sore achy feet after a long day of wearing your favorite heeled booties; if you feel confident and your best self in your outfit, then that is what is most important, and girl, you keep doing what’s best for you. This is especially true for all of the shorter girls out there.
For some women, who are on the shorter side, feeling taller is a way to feel more confident, to acquire a type of length and physique that they do not usually possess in normal shoes. This plays a huge role in self confidence, self esteem, mental health and happiness. For whatever reason,if your shoes make your feel like a diva, go with it, my heelista, and be your gorgeous self.
They Create A Slimmer Physique
Heels were crafted to contour and hold a woman’s foot into a perfect arched shape that then pushes out her rear end, creates a curve in her lower back, juts her chest forward and lengthens her neckline. This effect that heels have on women’s bodies is why when we wear heels and look in the mirror we feel like we have accentuated all of our best attributes.
This can actually have a slimming effect on our body as well. High heels force us to create stability in our legs and core, which contracts our muscles and holds everything in tight. If you are one of the people who feels as if their bodies and posture are affected negatively by high heels, it is important to work on your posture and body strength outside of your daily heel wear. Because high heels were crafted to improve the over-all curvature of a woman’s body, it can then have a negative effect and over-amplify an improper posture or body curve as well.
Be sure to keep your shoulders back and spine straight when wearing heels, focus on having good form and posture and you will find that you can alleviate much of the uncomfortable body aches and pains from wearing heels in this way. In addition, the quality of heels goes along with improving any issues or discomforts. A well crafted designer heel, made from soft leather, will be much more comfortable on your feet and much less harmful to your body’s health.
Cheap materials, poor craftsmanship and a bad fit will lead to a whole host of heel related issues. If you are the kind of woman whose style involves daily wear of high heels, view your heels, your feet and your health as an investment and buy the best quality product that you can. Not only will you level up in the style department, but you can say “bye bye” to any of those high heel’s pains and problems.
So, throw on your favorite pair of pumps and hit the town, my high heel loving ladies, you look fabulous.