- New infographic reveals terrifying damage heels have on feet and posture
- Knee joint pressure increased by 26% when a woman wears heels
- This is a key trigger of osteoarthritis
- The height of your heels and a narrow toebox can cause numbness
They make you look taller, leaner and more glamorous – just ask heel fanatic Victoria Beckham. But our love affair with spindly stilettos is threatening to leave us alarmingly down at heel, according to a staggering new piece of research. An infographic featured by The Washington Post illustrates, in shocking visual detail, the negative effect the stylish female’s choice of footwear has on their bodies.
The diagram shows how wearing high heels places excess force on the inside of the knee – a common site of osteoarthritis among women. One study found that knee joint pressure increased by as much as 26 per cent when a woman wears heels.
The height of your heels and a narrow toebox can create a thickening of tissue around a nerve between the third and fourth toes, which can lead to pain and numbness in the toes called Morton’s neuroma. Consultant podiatrist Mike O’Neill, from the College of Podiatry, recently warned that squeezing feet into smaller shoes can also cause long-term damage including arthritis, stress fractures, and trapped nerves, which may even require surgery or steroid injections.
Another common effect of wearing heels is bunions, a problem Victoria Beckham has admitted to. Tight-fitting shoes can cause a painful bony growth on the joint at the base of the big toe, which forces the big toe to angle in toward the other toes. A study found that one in five feet operations are to remove bunions. Based on the average cost of private treatment of about £4,000, this equates to £10.5million a year.
The research also highlights an issue they have dubbed ‘pump bump‘- caused by the rigid backs or straps of high heels which irritate the heel and create a bony enlargement also known as Haglund’s deformity.
Ankle injuries are also a huge cause for concern as high heels impair balance and a wearer is therefore at greater risk of falling, which could lead to a sprained or broken ankle. High heels also cause the body’s weight to be redistributed and prolonged wear can lead to joint pain on the ball of the foot called Metatarsalgia.
The higher a heel, the more damage it will have on your Achilles tendon as it causes it to tighten up and create pain. And it seems that younger women are most at risk as a study found that the younger the woman, the higher their heels.
Roughly 20 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 own a pair of six-inch high heeled shoes. This compares with 10 per cent of those aged 25 to 34 and just 3 per cent of 35 to 44 year olds.
And it isn’t just your feet and legs that are suffering as a result of vertiginous footwear. Spindly stilettos also put strain on your posture by pushing the centre of mass in the body forward, taking the hips and spine out of alignment, as well as putting excess pressure on the forefoot.
Mr O’Neill said: ‘There’s absolutely no doubt women who wear high heels are putting themselves at risk of permanent injury in the name of fashion. Given a choice between a stylish pair of shoes or nice feet, many will go for the stylish shoes.
‘However, the higher the heel, the more they tilt your body forward and the more you have to lean back to compensate. This can put your pelvis out of alignment and cause compression of the spine. ‘High heels ram your foot forward, which squishes your toes together and can cause ingrown toe nails, rough areas of skin, blemishes, and calluses.
‘And because your toes are squashed, the moisture gets trapped, causing soggy toes, which is a breeding ground for athlete’s foot.’