With Spring Racing just gone and Christmas approaching, high heel season is in full swing in Melbourne. Which unfortunately means we’ll be seeing an influx of women hobbling through the doors of our CBD physio clinic with foot pain.
The inconvenient truth is, wearing high heels regularly (3+ times per week) is one of the biggest causes of foot and ankle pain in women. Up to a third of women will even suffer permanent problems due to their enduring love for vertiginous footwear.
So what exactly happens when you wear heels?
- High heels place the foot in an unstable position where the muscles at the back of the ankle shorten and the front muscles lengthen. This destabilises and weakens the ankle.
- These changes cause the muscles higher in the leg and back to lose efficiency and strength.
- There’s also an increased load on the knee joint, which can lead to pain and even osteoarthritis.
- Wearing high heels may increase the risk of back injury, as heel height can overload the muscles of the lumbar spine, leading to muscle fatigue.
- Finally, when toes are unable to move under an increased load, the chance of bunions developing increases! (Opting for a heel with a wider toe box will reduce the chances).
Now for the good news
While it’s important to be aware of the risks involved with wearing high heels, the Collins Place Physio team aren’t total party poopers! We appreciate the close relationship between a girl and her heels, which is why we’ve put together this cheat sheet to minimise foot pain for high heel wearers.
5 tips for healthier high heel wear
- Stretch your calf and achilles. Use a foam roller a few times a week to roll out your calf muscles.
- Use a spiky massage ball to roll the arches of your feet. The muscles and plantar fascia (ligament connecting the heel to toes) are very important in maintaining foot and ankle health.
- Calf raises. Do single leg calf raises, focusing on keeping good alignment throughout the movement. Aim for 3 sets of 15 repetitions.
- Regular massage will help reduce calf tightness caused by those stilettos.
- Swap out your stilettos when you can for lower heels and wedges. A heel of 4cm or lower is advised to decrease pressure on the forefoot and help prevent injury.
If you have any concerns about how your footwear is affecting your feet and ankles, don’t hesitate to call and talk to one of the Collins Place Physio crew. We’d never make you to wear flats 24/7, but we’ll happily discuss how you can minimise the impact of your high heel habit!