It’s not only the feet that suffer from wearing the wrong shoes, the knock-on effects can be felt all the way up the body.
Uncomfortable heels not only cause corns and calluses on the feet, but can also create problems in the knee, hip and lower back too.
Here, FEMAIL speaks to an expert about what problems wearing the wrong type of heels can cause – and what shoes you should be wearing this summer.
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The knock-on effects of high heels can be felt all the way up the body: Uncomfortable shoes not only cause corns and calluses on the feet, but can create problems in the knee, hip and lower back too
According to podiatrist, Jemma Klein-Besser, 37, from London, founder of Jem Footcare: ‘When your weight is going through the wrong part of your joints, your body becomes out of kilter.’
Beautiful heels can also cause other ugly side effects including tibia torsion, arthritis, knock knees, shin splits and Achilles tendinitis – as well bunions and clawed toe.
In heels, our weight is thrown onto the front of the foot, which causes the tibia or shin bone to rotate inwards in order to keep standing up straight.
‘That can cause tibial torsion and in turn knock knees, which then in turn cause wear and tear on the cartilage of the knee joint,’ says Jemma.
Even when you throw off your heels, you’re still not out of danger.
‘In high shoes your calf muscle can shorten so when you go into a normal shoe you get an over-stretch, which can cause Achilles tendinitis,’ she says.
‘The foot is having to work so hard it can also become sprained from being over stretched, which can give you shin splits and bruised tendons in the foot.’
Choosing the right heels and taking care of your feet before and after wearing them can make all the difference. A wedged or wide heel, soft leather, rounded toe and thick sole are all key to comfort
When you’re not tottering in heels your foot goes through a rocking motion from heel to toe.
But, Jemma explains, ‘When your foot is in a heel, it goes straight from the back to front, skipping the normal gait cycle.’
‘The last part of the movement is called toeing off and if you can’t get a big enough angle to toe off it impacts on the toe joint. It can cause swelling, arthritis and bunions and can affect other joints too.’
‘There are 26 bones in each foot, all of which are important to holding the body up straight.’
WHAT MAKES A HEALTHY HEEL?
- A wedged or wide heel
- Soft leather
- Rounded toe
- Thick sole
The good news? Choosing the right heels and taking care of your feet before and after slipping into them can make all the difference.
If you want to be sensible with your choice of summer heel, opt for wedges, advises Jemma.
‘Wedges give you the height but a much more even weight distribution, so the pressure is not all on the ball of the foot.
‘In a traditional heel the whole foot pushes onto the ball, which can cause possible deformities in the toes.’
Jemma also advises that a soft leather is a healthier option.
‘Soft leather doesn’t rub on the toes and a thicker heel is always better than a stiletto,’ she says.
‘Ideally you want heels to be a maximum height of two inches, rather than four, so you have less weight on the front of the foot.’
Even when you throw off your heels, you’re still not out of danger. ‘In high shoes your calf muscle can shorten so when you go into a normal shoe you get an over-stretch,’ says podiatrist Jemma
Shoes with a thicker sole are also a good choice and help prevent corns and calluses, with often result from towering heels.
But if your favourite shoes have a thin sole, Jemma has a trick: ‘Take them to the shoe-mender to add a piece of rubber at the bottom of the sole under the ball of your feet.
‘The extra cushioning can prevent corns and calluses, as does the extra grip on the pavement. If you’re slipping around on the floor you scrunch up the toes, which can cause hammer toes, where you get dislocation of the toe joint.’
Squeezing into heels that are too small can also cause clawed toes, where the tops of toes become exposed from rubbing on the shoe – especially if the leather is too hard, or the shoe is not deep enough.
‘Look for something that’s more rounded – the more room for wiggling your toes, the better. Toes are there for stability so if they’re getting squashed the joints are not be able to move as well.’
What if you just have to wear those killer heels with a pointy toe?
‘Wear gel inserts to give relief and cushioning and gel plasters on the toe can also prevent rubbing and blistering,’ says Jemma, who also advises a golf ball rub.
‘When you come out of your shoes get a golf ball and roll it underneath your foot, putting pressure where it’s tender. Try to grab it with your toes,’ she says.
The exercise is soothing and can prevent stiffness and cramping and helps to ease the foot back into normal position by stretching out the joint.
You can also limber up before slipping into heels. Calf stretches, standing on tiptoes and rotating the ankles are all good ways to get heel-ready or to let the feet recover after a long day in killer shoes.