5 reasons to stop wearing heels today

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star-sponsored-nativeThe following is sponsored by Jean Brown Research.

They say love hurts, but whoever said that hadn’t worn heels. True, this fashion sensation is provocative, flattering and even stunning. But there’s a price for everything, and these pretty pumps don’t come cheap. You lose practicality and comfort in exchange for a stylish look.

And yet, it turns out that the downsides of heels include more than just discomfort and the inability to walk across a lawn. Heels cause you to avoid 9 out of 10 walking surfaces, which is one of many reasons not to wear them. Here are five more reasons, courtesy of Jean Brown Research:

1. These shoes weren’t made for walking
High heels date back to the 17th century, according to Elizabeth Semmelhack of the Toronto Bata Shoe Museum. What began as a shoe created for horseback riding slowly changed to become the fashion statement it is today.

But if these high falootin’ shoes were created in order to help keep your foot in a stirrup, how can they be good for walking? When you stop and consider the nonwalking origin of high heels, the pain makes a lot more sense.

2. Short and stiffened muscles
They told you that wearing heels would make your legs look longer, but The Journal of Applied Psychology has shown otherwise. According to a landmark study from 2012, the shorter strides of frequent heel wearers could result in a tightening (or shortening, if you will) of the leg and feet muscles, including your calves and Achilles’ tendons.

The position of your foot in high heels requires a pointed foot, pushing your heel right up next to your ankle. With little space to maneuver, your Achilles’ become stiff and weakened, along with many muscles around your ankle.

Experts in the study say that with prolonged heel use, walking in flats will become painful and your muscles will take a reciprocal time to fully recover. In addition, muscle fatigue and strain injuries aren’t out of the ordinary for long-time heel wearers.

3. Pain up the wazoo
Yes, heels are far from comfortable, but aside from the obvious, heels can cause you pain from head-to-toe. Structurally, your body’s tendons and muscles are all connected: plantar fascia connects to your Achilles’, which leads to your calf, which connects to your hamstring and eventually to your pelvis. And that’s not even addressing any back issues you might have.

Overall, the majority of heel-wearing issues arise from the unnatural posture from heels. Your feet can’t function the way they’re supposed to, putting increased weight and pressure on your lower back, knees and elsewhere.

While wearing heels, your feet will hurt, but your whole body could too. Doctors of Osteopathy inform us that “It’s not unusual for people who spend lots of time in high heels to have low back, neck and shoulder pain because the shoes disrupt the natural form of the body.”

4. Damaged toes and feet
One of the greatest problems with heels is that most designs provide a too-narrow toe box. Remember the aforementioned increased pressure in certain areas? Your toes are one of the unlucky places that takes on much more weight than is normal. With the additional problem of not enough space for your toes, wearing heels can cause:

  • bunions
  • blisters
  • hammer toes
  • ingrown toenails

The above list is just a glimpse into what your toes will suffer from not enough space and too much pressure. If you care enough about appearances to go through all this for some fancy shoes, it’s likely that you don’t want an ugly bunion ruining your dainty feet.

5. Reduced balance
Balance is a pretty important thing to most people, particularly if you work on a jet airplane. According to a recent study from 2015, heel-clad airline attendants in South Korea showed signs of reduced balance as opposed to those that didn’t wear heels.

The reason for this is that small muscles surrounding the ankles weren’t used regularly during heel-wearing. Results included weakened muscles that didn’t support the legs and body as well, ergo the reduced balance.

But don’t swap your favorite pumps for a pair of flip-flops just yet. Auburn Universityshowed that loose summer sandals can shorten your gait and damage your feet just as much as the dreaded stilettos.

Overall, the best solution is to find shoes that have an accommodating toe box, plenty of arch support, and allow you to move easily throughout the day. But if you already have ugly bunions troubling you, contact Jean Brown Research to participate in its bunion removal study.