Do you know that high heels can be traced back to 1580s, based on iconographic evidence and surviving pieces of high heels? Back then, wearing high heels indicated high status, as worn by both males and females from the higher social classes. For instance, 17th-century portraits of King Louis XIV of France depicted him wearing various intricate heels amongst the backdrop of battle scenes.
In this time of the day, the high heels have evolved to a symbol of sexuality, where women are deemed more sexy because it gives the impression of longer and slender legs. In fact, shoe brands Gucci and Jimmy Choo consider high heel measurements as over 8.9cm (3.5 inches). The apparel industry embraces another measurement: anything over 5.1cm (2 inches). In any case, both measurements sound extreme!
Yet, there are many detrimental effects from wearing these shoes:
- Cause lower back pain.
- Cause foot and tendon pain, and cramp.
- Cause unsteady gait.
- Increase risk of fracture and sprain.
- Increase risk of knee degeneration due to unnatural pressure on the knee joint.
To begin, when a person wears high heels, the body compensates for being thrown off-balance. The longer the heel is worn, the more tense the muscles become – the back, hip and calf.
Meanwhile the increased pressure on the forefoot causes the lower part of the body to lean forward, subsequently causing the upper part of the body to lean backwards to maintain stability; this becomes a constant delicate battle. A normal stride becomes impossible, and instead becoming a staccato walk. At the same time, there is more wear and tear of the knees.
The spine, usually an S-curve, is being stressed. The lumbar spine flattens. There is posterior displacement of the head and thoracic spine.
Here is a simple survival guide we collated for you if you really have to wear them often:
Purchase – Always try them in the store. Don’t succumb to online sales even if you are sure it fits you.
Slope – Purchase those which have a gradual slope instead of having an extreme drop down to the flat of the shoe. At the same time, avoid those with thin soles. Go for a platform base if possible.
Posture – Whenever you take steps, properly straighten and extend your legs. Sloppy posture strains the muscles more.
Take it off – If you have to wear it the whole day, find some opportunity where you can kick them off to stretch your feet. Or, take a seat whenever you can!
I often look at women who wear great jeans and high heels and nice little T-shirts wandering around the city, and I think, “I should make more of an effort. I should look like that.” But then I think, “They can’t be happy in those heels.”
~ Kate Winslet