High heels may ruin your feet by refocusing your body weight in harmful ways, orthopedic specialists caution. By forcing your bodyweight to the front of your feet, high-heeled shoes push bones out of place, causing painful bunions and other deformities. Over time, joints may become arthritic.
"With high heels, the toes are squashed inside the shoe. The more stiletto-shaped they are, the worse it is. The toes not only get squashed, but they become clawed too,” said Dr. Andy Goldberg, speaking to News.com.au. "There's nothing wrong with being in this high heel position temporarily - it forms a part of your normal stride. And if you wear heels for an hour or two at an evening party, it's not a problem.
"But if you wear them for eight hours a day for years on end, you will develop problems,” he warned.
Goldberg, a foot and ankle specialist at the Royal National Orthopedic Hospital in North London, says that scans from the institution’s new PedCAT machine indicate a problem much bigger than physicians anticipated. The machine, which produces multiple 3-D scans to image orthopedic bone and joint details, reveals that certain parts of the foot not only deviate, but also rotate and drop. Additionally, sesamoids — the pea-shaped bones at the base of your big toe — eventually get dislodged under your readjusted body weight.
"The scanner gives us much more information,” he said. “It shows the deformity caused by wearing high heels is much more complicated than we previously thought."
A concomitant survey of patients at the hospital’s foot and ankle clinic revealed that more than half of them had experiences pain from uncomfortable shoes, and that almost 90 percent had trouble finding comfortable ones. That said, the ergonomic and comfortable footwear market is rapidly expanding, and Goldberg suspects that most patients are simply reluctant to acknowledge their high heels as the culprits. Even after the deformities have been surgically rectified, some continue to squeeze into their stilettos.
"Foot and ankle problems affect your walking and take over your life. There's a saying that if you want to take someone's mind off a problem, put them in tight shoes,” he said. "If a fashion icon such as Victoria Beckham designed a range of shoes that really fitted our feet, then that would be a real game-changer."