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Too high for comfort

You might want to flaunt stilettos to look glamourous and sleek. Style apart, excessively high heels can lead to serious health problems.

fashion and trends Updated: May 22, 2010 01:31 IST

Like the tall Lara Dutta or the shorter Rani Mukerji, you might want to flaunt stilettos to look glamourous and sleek. But experts feel this style statement can cause serious harm to the body if proper care is not taken.

“Increased pressure puts the forefoot at risk of injuries such as stress fractures, bunions and hammer toes. Knee pain is also common when high heels are involved,” says Ashish Jain, M.S. (orthopaedics), consultant joint replacement specialist, Max Hospital.

“The heel height causes increased strain on the knee joint and associated tendons. The quadriceps muscle group in the front of the thigh works harder, increasing pressure on the kneecap by up to 26 per cent. This can ultimately increase the incidence of osteoarthritis of the knee and quadriceps tendonitis,” he adds.

There are other hazards as well. When the heel is constantly elevated, the calf muscle and Achilles tendon can contract and shorten. Wearing high heels habitually can result in a woman not being able to tolerate a flat shoe. On occasions, this can even require surgery to lengthen the Achilles tendon, say doctors.

Sometimes the tight fit of many heels force the toes to conform to its shape. The pressure of the shoe too can cause corns. Furthermore, the compression of the metatarsal bones can cause pressure on the nerves that run between them.

“New techniques such as dermal fillers are even more dangerous with women taking filler injections in their foot pads to relieve the pain that comes from wearing high heels,” said Satish Bhatia, dermatologist and skin surgeon, Lady Ratan Tata Medical and Research Centre. “The injection costs between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000 and does not last for more than six-seven months,” he adds.

“The best way to avoid pain arising out of extended use of heels is to stop wearing them completely. But if that is not possible, then the maximum advised height is not more than an inch,” says Dr Rajesh Malhotra, professor of orthopaedics, AIIMS.

First Published: May 21, 2010 17:59 IST