Historically, women have had a love affair with high heels. They will always be in fashion. However, it seems that the heel heights of today are pushing the limits of comfort and safety.
The pictures in this blog post are the result of a visit to the local mall for an informal survey of what most shoe stores are offering for high heel aficionados. Along with taking pictures, I tried on a variety of shoes to find out what wearing these extreme heels feels like.
Some women argue that the platform sole in these shoes serves to soften the angle at which the shoe tilts (the pitch). However, at heel heights of 5 and 6 inches, the pitch of the shoes is still high.
With each pair of shoes I tried, my body was thrust forward. I could feel my toes being shoved into the front of the toe box even in shoes that were properly sized. Balancing was precarious as I made a conscious effort to maintain proper posture. I didn’t even attempt walking. In the booties shown here, I overturned my ankle.
Fans of these heels often say that they are comfortable and easy to walk in when you get used to them. Again, an informal survey watching women wearing very high heels indicates to me that they struggle to walk in them and facial expressions show some degree of discomfort.
In a previous high heel blog (here), I outlined the harmful effects of frequently wearing high heels. These included bunion formation, hammer toes, crowding together of toes and ingrown toenails. As well, the calf muscles, knees, hips and back are strained as the body tries to maintain balance.
The McDermott Footcare client who agreed to have these pictures taken of her feet stated that she wore high, ill-fitting shoes for many years. Now in her later years, she finds walking very difficult.
Note how the toes are permanently shortened and crowded together. This is the result of toes being pushed forward in a narrow toe box for many years. As well, the shape of the foot indicates that my client constantly wore shoes that were too small.
The same survey of shoes confirmed that there are many attractive, more comfortable options in high heels available at the same stores. It’s not that women should stop wearing heels all together; it’s that we should be making more reasonable choices, keeping in mind the health of our feet, ankles, knees, hips and back. We should also be alternating reasonably high heels with flatter shoes.
Fashion and health can co-exist quite well in the wardrobe of a stylish woman. Many choices are available in a range of styles and prices. There is no need to sacrifice comfort, health and safety for fashion.