Ladies (and maybe men), if you’ve been influenced by Lady Gaga’s taste in shoes or can’t be seen without your 3-inch stilettos, you might be predisposing yourself to some high-heel related problems—and I don’t mean cat calls.
According to a new study, wearing 2-inch heels (or higher) 5 or more days a week shrinks a woman's calf muscle fibers by 13% and thickens her Achilles tendon (that attaches the heel to the calf muscle) by 22%. When this happens, you might notice that those trendy flats or sneakers are uncomfortable to walk in. Why? Because when your calf shortens and Achilles tendon thickens, they change the resting position of your ankle so it points down more than normal. Walking on a flat foot will feel like deep-stretching a muscle you haven’t warmed up or stretched in a while—yeah…painful.
If not being able to wear this fall’s latest flat collection isn’t motivating enough (something I find deeply concerning), high heels can contribute to a range of ailments, including ankle sprains, bunions, hammertoes, knee problems, and low back pain. Lady Gaga’s super-high heels—like the 12-inch Alexander McQueens (the platforms that look like a claw) in her "Bad Romance" music video—can even cause ankle ligaments to snap or bones in your feet to break.
Now don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you to part with the only things you love more than your husband (Nancy, you're excluded). These physical changes and discomfort primarily occur in women that almost exclusively wear high-heeled shoes. In the study, the women who experienced pain wore heels for an average of 60 hours a week. So what’s the best way to prevent that from happening? Switch it up! Try to shoot for heels lower than 2 inches tall and alternate between your kitten heels, flats, and sneakers throughout the week.
But wait, there’s more to heel hygiene than just that. Keep your feet happy with these 4 exercises:
Young Dr Mike, aka “The Enforcer”