Women who work out should think twice before wearing high heels for a night out on the town.
The shoes could leave them with painful bunions, corns, calluses and a host of other injures, including ones that affect how their muscles work when they exercise.
And these ailments make it difficult – if not impossible – to do intense workouts that require running or squatting.
If you ignore the damage for too long, you could have to wait weeks before you can get back in the gym, as your feet will need to rest to heal properly if you have damaged them by consistently wearing high heels.
Here, an expert explains why you should avoid them as much as possible and provides advice for how to care for your feet if you have already hurt them.
Heels can cause a slew of problems for your feet, which can eventually render you unable to do intense workouts
Foot and ankle surgeon Dr Neal Blitz said that being fashionable comes at a price, which is often the well-being of your feet.
‘High heels, while they look beautiful, are no good for your feet,’ Dr Blitz said, explaining that his clients come in with painful foot problems which sometimes require surgery as a result of wearing high heels too frequently.
‘It puts your foot at an abnormal position,’ he added. Dr Blitz explained that high heels are often the culprit when bunions arise at the base of the joint of a woman’s big toe.
Bunions cause your big toe to push into the toe next to it, and the skin on a bunion is usually red and sensitive.
Another common problem that high heels cause is a condition called hammertoe, and it occurs when a woman’s second toe becomes bent. The middle of the joint is creased because it has been pushed against the tip of a high-heeled shoe for long periods of time.
THE DANGERS OF CALLUSES
Calluses are hardened, thick patches of skin which appear when too much pressure is put on a body part.
They are most frequent on the toes, feet, fingers and hands.
For healthy individuals, the only danger associated with calluses is discomfort.
But individuals with diabetes or other conditions which limit blood flow to the feet can experience more severe complications because of calluses.
Symptoms of a callus:
- A raised bump
- A hardened patch of skin
- Tenderness or pain
- Flaky, waxy or dry skin
To prevent calluses, you can wear felt pads or bandages on top of places that rub against uncomfortable footwear.
‘These make it harder for women to work out,’ Dr Blitz said, emphasizing that their feet cannot hold up in intense workouts after they have been subjected to heels for too long.
He also said that the nature of the shoes make people more prone to ankle injuries, which can render them incapable of exercising for weeks.
‘I think one of the things people don’t think about is: high heels can be dangerous because you’re walking on stilts,’ he said. Dr Blitz explained that this makes you more prone to getting hurt walking on a cobble stone street or over a grate.
These surfaces, which many women who live in urban areas have to traverse each day, make it much easier for women wearing heels to sprain an ankle or fracture a muscle in their foot, which could require them to refrain from exercising for weeks.
While some of these problems, such as calluses or other skin-based injuries, may not be life threatening, they can be painful enough to prevent women from hitting the gym.
Additionally, because wearing heels makes your body be pitched forward at an awkward ankle, your calf muscles can be sore after a night trying to balance in them.
And even though this soreness is not unbearable while doing everyday chores, going for a run or doing a leg-focused work out can be challenging because of tight calf muscles.
Heels can also cause lower back pain which will affect most any weight lighting movement you try at the gym.
‘High heels make it difficult to sustain yourself when you exercise. [Women] find these foot problems stop them from exercising,’ Dr Blitz said.
He also provided tips for how to care for your feet should you start to develop bruises and aches as a result of wearing high heels. But he warned that, sometimes, surgery is necessary for a long-term solution to damaged feet.
The first thing Dr Blitz recommended was stretching to limber up your feet. And one way to relieve tension in them is to take a tennis ball and massage the soles of your feet with it.
Women should also keep their calf muscles limber so they do not hurt themselves doing a leg-intensive workout after a night straining their lower legs.
Another quick fix is soaking your in Epsom salt, which relieves aches and pains after a long night spent in high heels.
And a simple way to make sure your feet are in good shape for workouts is to scrub corns and calluses that result from high heels off of them as soon as they arise. ‘Keep your feet neat,’ he said, cautioning not to work out while you have calluses on them.
However, these are only short-term solutions, which will not heal your feet after years of wearing heels each day. ‘In the long term, unfortunately, once the damage is done women can’t exercise,’ Dr Blitz cautioned.