Steppin’ Out in Stilettos

A doctor's viewpoint on high heel hazards and health.


Let me start by saying, I’m a doctor of chiropractic.  I talk to my patients on a daily basis about the importance of proper footwear.  I hold classes on this type of thing, and even have patients call me while they are in the stores shopping to see if I approve of their choices.  So what possessed me and three other doctors to step out on a Monday night, dressed to impress, all in heels higher than anything we ever would have dreamed of wearing on a daily basis?  Sheer vanity or sheer insanity (as I now like to refer to the evening)?

Researchers have found that the average woman can tolerate their new Manolo Blahniks for about 34 minutes before their feet start to hurt.    Hmmm…why hadn’t anyone told us that before we left the building? Half of these women surveyed even admitted to walking home barefoot from a club or bar after a night in high heels.  What were we thinking? 

High heels first became popular in the 1930s, and were only used for special occasion wear, but have now become every day wear.  One in 10 women wears high heels at least three days a week.  Well, I can tell you we were not of that statistic.  We are definitely the doctors who only wear heels for special occasions.  This probably should have been our first hint the evening would not go as planned. 

We arrived in style, and made it to the coat check without any incidents…and even up the elevator.  Mission accomplished.  We arrived at the penthouse, looking fabulous, and still in one piece.  And then I think it was right around that 35 minute mark, the heels came off, and put in a corner.  Then one of the other doctors started asking if we could sit down.  In these dresses, what was she talking about?

We were totally enjoying ourselves standing up, gazing at the beautiful New York skyline.  So cut to 15 minutes later.  We're down, shoes off, and sipping comfortably on our drinks.  Enjoying the evening, perched, watching the more experienced, or slightly more tolerant women teeter and totter around in their heels.   This pretty much how we spent the rest of the evening, except for short trips to the restrooms, or to take a picture for posterity sake.  Upon leaving two of us actually hobbled to coat check in our heels, then thankfully sat down in the transportation whereas the heels immediately came off for the long drive home interspersed only for a quick food stop at a roadside rest area, equally as unstable as the previous exit. 

We all should have listened to our inner doctor advice which tells us that humans were not created to wear things on their feet that make them walk on their tiptoes.  Here are just a few of consequences of wearing high heeled shoes.

GAIT ALTERATION: The shoe alone does not allow for full range of motion, as your foot is not allowed to strike the ground mid-foot, which is a natural shock absorber, and you are not able to push off the ground with as much force, which overworks your hip flexors.

POSTURAL CHANGES: When you are in a toe pointed down puts increased pressure on your forefoot causing your center of gravity to shift forward, causing you to lean back.  This is not the body’s normal position.

BALANCE: Your feet are put in a more supinated (ankle out, bottom of foot inward), which can cause you to lose your balance and increase the risk for ankle sprain.

KNEES: Women has twice as high of an incidence of osteoarthritis as men.  This is due to the position the high heels place the leg in which can cause additional force on the medial portion of the knee as well as an increased distance between the knee and the ground that increases knee torque.

FEET: The increase pressure in your foot can cause hammertoes, neuromas and bunions.

To summarize the night, we could have been sensible and minimized our risk of wearing our high heels, and chose a thicker, lower heel, which would have spread the load more evenly, or perhaps softer insoles to reduce the impact on our knees.  We probably should have even have worn the heels around the house for a few hours before we went out, thus giving our feet  a chance to get used to them before trying something more  strenuous such as dancing. However, we did not, and I am ashamed to admit, by the time I got home, I walked into the house, through a rainstorm, in my bare feet...pure bliss, and a perfect end to the evening.

P.S. At the time this was published, the Dr.’s are still hobbling around the workplace, waiting for their feet to recover from the fateful night of the high heels.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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