How High: A Healthy Height for Your Heels

How High: A Healthy Height for Your Heels

One of the best things about being a woman is being able to wear fabulous footwear and super high heels. High heels are so appealing because they jazz up any outfit up and add extra sex appeal. As good as they look, high heels aren't the best form of footwear for you in terms of your health and overall safety. Think about how your feet felt the last time you wore three inch heels all day long. High heels are not the most functional shoes to put on your feet. Here's the lowdown on high heels and things you should consider.

How High Is Too High?

Four-inch heels make your legs look amazing, there's no denying it, but they're not your best option if you want to do what's best for your body, both presently and 50 years from now. When you wear shoes that make you walk awkwardly or unnaturally, you bear your body's weight differently than you would when walking naturally flat footed. Studies have shown that wearing high heels, thin and wider heels alike, puts abnormal stress on both the front and the back of the knees and directly links to osteoarthritis in the knee joints.

About Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is characterized by the breakdown of the articular cartilage in a joint. It can happen in joints all over the body, but is most common to those that bear weight. Articular cartilage is is a rubbery and firm material that covers the end of the bone. It acts as a cushion in the joint. As it wears, your bones begin to rub and grind together. Pain, swelling and a decrease in the joint's range of motion result.

Common High-Heel-Related Injuries

Osteoarthritis is a less immediate danger that comes with wearing high heels regularly. You're not likely to experience osteoarthritis until years down the road. On the other hand, several of the other injuries you could face by wearing high heels are very immediate. Sprained ankles are common injuries caused by wearing high heels. When you carry your weight in an unnatural way, it's much easier to roll your ankle and sprain or break it.

Common Pains Caused by Wearing High Heels

Your ankles and knees aren't the only areas of your body affected by wearing high heels. Metatarsalgia, or pain in the ball of your foot, is a common occurrence. Back pain also becomes more frequent. Because wearing high heels throws your balance off (your weight moves from being centered to being forward), your body has to do extra work to keep from falling over. Most of this extra effort is concentrated in the lower back and leads to pain.

Low Heels Are Best

Your best bet for heeled footwear is nothing higher than a 1/2-inch or one-inch heel. A slight heel does nothing to offset your balance, and you run little risk of rolling your ankle. Most importantly, your weight is evenly distributed over your foot, so low heels don't place extra pressure on your knees. They're better for your posture and a safer choice all around.

Treat wearing high heels like you would any food with negative health effects: use sparingly and in moderation.