High heels have long been recognized as a symbol of confidence and sexiness for women. Being in a killer pair of heels makes a woman feel tall and powerful. It also adds an element of sexiness to a woman’s appearance.
Women have also worn heels to demonstrate professionalism in the workplace. They leave a lasting impression on colleagues and clients as a signal of competence.
But are heels all they’re cut out to be? Are they really worth the hours of strain and joint pain?
The Pain of Wearing High Heels
Although a wardrobe staple for many women, heels have also been a huge source of discomfort. The routine prolonged wear of high heels has hampered mobility and convenience for women in more ways than one.
They can cause back problems
Heels alter your posture when you are standing in them. They cause your hip area to push forward, which puts a lot of pressure on your spine. Having to stand and walk in heels for a while forces your back to keep the body balanced.
While heels themselves can affect your normal posture, using a bag while wearing heels could aggravate these issues. And note that too much strain is not just a highly uncomfortable experience. It can also cause scoliosis.
Should such problems occur, it is important to seek immediate treatment for scoliosis. If left untreated, the curvature of your spine could worsen and cause more pain in the future.
They pose a higher risk for injury
It takes a bit of skill and a lot of practice to walk well in heels. The uneven balance provided by the structure of heels and the ground makes it difficult to maintain stability, even among the most trained of us.
High heels make it easier to get ankle sprains or injuries from falling. Usually, these will only require a bit of rest and some stretches. For the more unfortunate incidents, these could also mean fractures.
If you still need to wear heels now and then, it may be best to bring a pair of flats or sneakers. Switching to comfortable footwear when the heels aren’t needed gives your ankles a welcome break from the imbalance.
They can change the shape of the foot
The regular use of high heels can permanently reshape your muscles and tendons. LiveScience reports that the Achilles tendon becomes stiffer and shorter than its usual size because your feet adapt to the frequent use of heels.
This does not pose problems when in heels but could be painful when standing with feet flat on the floor. Being barefoot or in flat shoes with a shortened Achilles tendon stretches your foot muscles beyond their normal capability.
They can cause ingrown nails
Wearing closed-toed heels uncomfortably presses the toes together and against the inside of the heel. This discomfort is caused by the contrast between the natural shape of your toes and the curved shape of the shoes.
The inordinate amount of time spent wearing heels can force your nails to grow into the sides of your toes. These cause ingrown nails that can dig into the flesh and may require medical treatment, depending on the severity of the injury.
Should this occur, tend to the injured area by soaking your feet in warm water to alleviate any pain. You can also apply a topical antibiotic to prevent infection. Do not hesitate to visit a doctor if it cannot be treated on your own.
The Future of High Heels
Fashion publication Glossy reports that sales of dress shoes fell to 71% during the second quarter of 2020. High heels are included in this percentage, but the same report showed that heels were still among the top-selling footwear for some brands in the middle of the pandemic.
While this is true, the shoe-buying preferences of many have already been shifting from dress shoes to athleisure footwear before the pandemic struck. The trends today are pointing towards casual styles, but the post-COVID-19 market could look different. Besides, people have not completely lost interest in heels.
Shoe designer Marion Parke, formerly a podiatric surgeon, responded to the need for comfort and luxury by bridging this gap in her footwear. Her heels follow the natural arch of the foot to maximize comfort while still showing off sophistication.
The death of the high heel is not imminent. But innovations are allowing women to enjoy the unique style of heels without losing mobility. So the answer is no, it isn’t time to bid high heels farewell just yet!