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Tall trouble

They look drop-dead gorgeous on you, but high-heeled shoes and other ill-fitting footwear come with their share of aches.
Hindustan Times | By HT Correspondent, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 11, 2008 05:55 PM IST
Women's fashion always comes at a price. Okay, maybe not always, but you get the drift. Take those stilettos with dangerously high fourand five-inch heels and dainty, pointed toes, for instance.

They look drop-dead gorgeous on you of course, but what are they really doing to your feet in the long run?

Heeling touch

According to the website of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society shoes with "pointed , toes, thin soles, and shoes with high spike heels" are of the cruel variety because they can "cause crowding of the toes and increased pressure".

A three-inch heel creates seven times more stress in your foot than a one-inch heel, says the American Society of Podiatric Sports Medicine.

Tips for shoe shopping

Pick a shoe depending on how it fits. If it feels tight, don't buy it.

Buy your shoes at the end of the day, when feet often swell and are larger.

Measure sizes of both your feet at the shop since they can be different.

Stand up when being fitted. If you do decide to buy high heels, don't wear them for more than three hours at a stretch.

"Wearing heels causes your foot to slide forward, redistributing your weight, creating unnatural pressure points and throwing your body's natural alignment out of whack.

High heels have also been linked to overworked or injured leg muscles, osteoarthritis of the knee and lower back pain," according to the Mayo Clinic.

Off balance
Not to mention the ankle injuries we risk if we go off balance and take a bad fall on those high heels. "We do get several people coming to us with problems arising out of improper footwear," says Dr Vijay Shetty, consultant orthopaedic surgeon, Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital.

"Our normal body posture distributes our weight on the joints in our knees and feet in a specific way. Wearing high heels changes that balance and can cause chronic tendon problems, undue pressure on joints and even knee osteoarthritis," he adds.

To be even more specific, there are problems that may arise largely due to improper footwear use over extended periods.

"Hammertoes are caused when narrow pointed shoes are worn for extended periods in the long run. The smaller toes are bunched and bent together and as a result, the second or third toe is unable to straighten itself and bends upwards," says Dr Shetty .

"Tight fitting shoes can also cause the big toe to converge in towards the other toes, causing a deformed growth of the big toe's joint called bunions," he adds.

A benefit as well
If this seems like an all-out campaign against high heels, take heart. "Studies have now shown that wearing high heels may actually be beneficial to women postchildbirth. Pelvic muscles are usually weakened during childbirth and wearing high heels may help strengthen these," says Dr Shetty .

Compiled by Sai Raje Sources:,, American Society of Podiatric Sports Medicine and the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society.

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