Heels to Flip-Flops…Be Aware of the Risks

Several weeks ago I wrote what became a rather popular article explaining to women how they can do a leg/foot exercise routine giving them increased strength and flexibility to wear their fancy high-heel shoes more comfortably.  Ironically I came across a recent article published in the English Daily that discussed the long-term damaging effect of high-heel shoes on the leg muscles and tendons and why swapping heels for flats after a long day can potentially cause even greater harm to the wearer’s calves.  The article made a lot of sense and it also presented a good parallel to my recent two articles on how women can prepare their feet for the perils that high-heel fashion shoes bring to their body.  It also brought to light another common issue that serious high-heel enthusiasts can experience when they change their shoes.

As heeled shoes are worn all day long for weeks on end the muscles in the calf will become permanently shortened.  Standing on your toes places your calf muscles in a shortened position.  Wearing high-heel shoes mimics this position so the entire time the wearer has their shoes on it is as if they are standing on their toes.  Because shoes are generally worn for extended periods of time the body becomes used to the shortened calf mal-position and as a result a muscle memory process occurs.  The longer the heeled shoes are worn the more ingrained and accustomed the body becomes to this abnormal muscle constricting process.

A common question amongst heeled shoe wearers is if they sit down will that prevent the trauma to their feet during those times.  Well the bad news is that even in the seated position this strenuous position of standing on the toes is maintained.  If possible I recommend that high heeled shoes be removed during those periods of being seated throughout the day.

As a caution, don’t be too relieved here just because you don’t wear four inch stilettos.  Studies have shown that as little as a two-inch heeled shoe worn regularly for a couple years creates enough repetitive stress and strain to potentiate this condition.

This shortened calf muscle condition is exacerbated when the wearer removes their heeled shoes after being in them all day long and slipping into a pair of flats or sneakers.  Immediately upon doing this the shortened, constricted calf muscles are lengthened and forcibly stretched causing great trauma to the muscles and tendons.  If the body isn’t conditioned properly then this process can cause significant and potentially permanent damage to the Achilles tendon and calf musculature.  This serious risk of injury may also present when a woman gets home after a long day of work and removes her shoes to walk in her bare feet.  Any forcible lengthening of the chronically shortened calf muscles can become an issue.

As I discussed in a couple of my earlier writings women can do simple leg and foot exercises on a regular basis in order to provide increased strength and resilience to the calf muscles and tendons.  I wrote about how this will allow a woman to wear higher heeled shoes.  These exercises if done regularly will also afford her the ability to change from heels to more comfortable, lower shoes after a long day of work without the risks of overstretching the calf muscles and tendons.  So hopefully all you heelers to flip-floppers out there will take my advice and give your legs a switching chance!

© Robert J. Fenell, D.C.

WANT TO USE THIS IN YOUR EZINE OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you use this blurb with it: For over 14 years Dr. Robert J. Fenell, D.C. has helped relieve thousands of patients from their debilitating hand and foot pain.  He has also helped train hundreds of other chiropractors in the diagnosis and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and many other hand and foot conditions.  Get your FREE hand and foot kit at:  www.handandfootpain.com