Fashion: Why High Heels Are Bad For Your Health


There’s no feeling quite like the one you get when you strap new heels on and walk around in them before deciding to get them, that feeling will have you more in love with your shoes than with most things in life. Despite heels being the holy grail of most women, they are reported to be worse than smoking. Biomechanist, Katy Bowman, adds that smoking was once considered fashionable, alluring and sexy but it is looked at differently in this day and time. She says that she believes within our lifetime we will start viewing high heels as a sign of low self-esteem, imagine that. Why would heels, these seemingly harmless fashion footwear, be considered in such light? Not only for the fear of dangerously twisting and spraining your ankles walking down the streets of Nairobi, but heels can cause severe medical damage to your body.

These are some proven health risks that heels could expose you to.

  1. Lower back pain.

High heels are designed with fashion in mind and comfort is not a priority, hence most heels are quite uncomfortable to wear and walk in. Their design gives the body less support than running shoes, flats or even sandals. They give the body an assumed tip-toe position and place pressure on the balls of the feet, this, in turn, causes an odd posture where the lower back is pushed forward. This takes the spine out of its normal position, straining it and eventually leading to lower back pains. Anyone who has experienced this knows the pain is torturous and no fun at all, and worst of all, it can for last years.

  1. Sprained ankles.

How many times have you walked in heels, missed a step and had a “near-death experience” when your ankle twists? I can’t even count the number of times I have seen this happen to people in town, and it’s honestly one of the worst things ever. Now imagine horribly spraining your ankle because of that precious heel you value. The injuries could vary from broken ankles, bruised knees, elbows and even concussions. Nairobi alone has uneven streets, cobblestone pavements, pebbled streets, and so many more external factors that wait for an opportunity to take advantage of your pointy heels and let gravity do its worst.

High heels – image from
  1. Constrict blood vessels.

You know that pain you feel walking around in heels all day, and the relief you immediately feel when you take them off, that is not only due to the strain but also the restriction of your blood vessels. Heels are designed to elongate legs and give them an appearance of elegance, this leaves little breathing room for your feet and the blood vessels within. This is why most times you see blood vessels popping when one is in heels. This constriction is unhealthy as blood supply to the feet is done inefficiently and the vessels may end up bursting.

  1. Affect natural curve of the spine.

We have seen that heels cause imbalance and this leads to the spine bending unnaturally. Heels make the spine push forward, arching it and taking the spine and hips out of alignment. The higher the heels the more arched your spine is and eventually it is bent out of shape causing further complications in your health especially in your old age.

  1. Crooked feet.

The design of heels causes feet to deform and eventually, with years of the effect your feet become crooked. The squeezing and pressure they place on the feet cause the shape of the bones to bend into unnatural shapes and you end up with crooked feet. These cause pain when walking and in severe cases, one may need surgery to realign the bones.

  1. Increased risk of osteoarthritis.

This is a condition where the joints are inflamed due to cartilage degeneration. Wearing high heels that are 3 1/2 inches or higher can increase your lifetime risk of osteoarthritis, a leading cause of disability in women. These heels increase the risk of the strain to the knee due to uneven support and other factors. This eventually leads to osteoarthritis.

  1. Muscle pains and spasms.

Heels cause strain on muscles at the back of the calves, lower back and eventually cause them to shorten. This increases the pain experienced in these areas after the strain of wearing heels. They may lead to painful leg cramps associated with the fashion items.

Worse conditions are reported by medical practitioners globally with one even showing an x-ray of the unnatural bending on the ankles due to heels to his patients.

To reduce the effect of heels as it is nearly impossible to completely do away with them one needs to:

  • Avoid wearing heels for long periods of time. Take a break off heels when in the office or carry sandals to wear when the pressure of heels is a little too much.
  • Stretch leg muscles before and after putting them on. This makes them more relaxed and less strained by the heels.
  • Try and set your limit to 2 inches. For every day wear try wearing low heels and opt for higher heeled shoes only when necessary.
  • Buy shoes in the afternoon when feet are largest. This allows for expansion when wearing them in future and reduces pressure and compression by heels on feet.
  • Avoid pointed tips. Heels now have wider tips for increased support and block heels are gaining fast hold in fashion as well.
  • Buy shoes with leather insoles to avoid slipping of foot in shoes during the day caused by sweating and other factors.
  • Buy a variety of shoes and vary your footwear daily. There are so many footwear options to choose from that still present a professional look and feel, vary them occasionally to lessen the effect of heels.

Check out this infographic on heels and your health – They make you look sexy but high heels are bad for your health!


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