I’m settled in on the couch with a bowl of ice cream and some hot tea (to help with the fact that it’s 30 degrees and sleeting outside and I’m eating ice cream ;)) and I’m ready to talk feet. I mentioned in Sunday’s post that I gave up high heels when I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon and some of you have mentioned that you are interested in hearing why.
When I sustained my hamstring injury last September, I made a beeline to see Jen’s husband Jeff. I knew if anyone could get me running again, it would be him since he’s married to a marathoner and is a triathlete himself. Every time I went in for an appointment I was coming from work and wearing heels. And each time Jeff asked me, “are those the shoes you wear every day?” He stressed that I needed to stop wearing heels at least until after the race to facilitate injury recovery and good alignment.
I heeded his advice and didn’t wear heels a single time until the marathon. When I attempted to wear them again after, I couldn’t believe the discomfort I experienced. I would say that pre-injury and pre-marathon, I wore heels most days of the week to work. Now, I maybe wear them once every couple of weeks and always end up regretting it by the end of the day.
Enough backstory, let’s get to the facts. This is why you should not wear high heels every day!
- Foot pain – when you wear heels, your feet are in a downward position. Your forefoot has to deal with an intense amount of pressure. I read this staggering fact in this article, “The pressure increases as the height of the shoe heel increases. Wearing a 3 1/4 inch heel increases the pressure on the bottom of the forefoot by 76%. The increased pressure may lead to pain or foot deformities such as hammer toes, bunions and neuromas.” I think I will pass on bunions, thank you! I was talking with a co-worker about my plans to write this post and she told me that she had to have surgery on a neuroma and no longer has feeling in part of her foot.
- Posture – according to the Washington Post, heels push the center of the body forward and that takes the hips and spine out of alignment. The shoes cause you to tilt forward and that makes your hip flexors work a lot harder to keep you upright. This creates a lot of stress on the lumbar region of the spine. Low back pain is very common for high heel wearers and is one of my primary complaints when I wear them!
- Knee pain – heels place a lot of force on the inside of the knee due to the knee and have been linked to osteoarthritis. The Washington Post article refers to a study that showed, “knee joint pressure increased by as much as 26 percent when a woman wears heels.“
- Shortening of the achilles and calf – your feet are in an elevated position all day and this results in shortening of the achilles tendons and calf muscles. This can be especially troublesome for runners who go straight from heels to running shoes. Also an issue for my fellow yogis because it’s a major contributor to not being able to get the heels closer to the mat in down dog.
*And yes, if you sit at your desk all day this is still a problem. You’ll see in the picture below that even though I am sitting, my feet are still elevated, thus the shortening is still occurring.
Check out the article links above for more in-depth information on what high heels do to your body. The Washington Post link has a great graphic that gives you a quick look at the big picture. Have I convinced anyone else to start wearing flats more often? It’s been an adjustment but it’s 100% worth it!