Monday, March 02, 2009

One Heel of a Problem

One Heel of a Problem
There they sit, perfect in every way. Your eyes widen as you take in their beauty. Your heart beats faster and you begin to imagine all the different ensembles that will be complete by making this one purchase. You immediately hail down one of the pretty sales associates and hope they have your size. You wait, anxiously, for her to return with good news and she does! Oh they feel perfect. Your legs, they look longer. You feel taller. Something about them brings out your inner goddess. You walk back and forth in front of the mirror and finalize your decision. “I’ll take them!”, you say out loud trying to contain your excitement. And as you walk out of the store you feel like you haveaccomplished another great feat. In your possession is the perfect pair of five inch heels. Sarah Jessica Parker and her shoeaholic incarnation would be sooo jealous!An all too familiar shopping experience for many women. And one that can havean undesirable lasting effect on the health of your feet.

Feet seem to be an undesirable topic to discuss. Almost taboo inside the circles of the uber stylish. The only time feet are addressed is when you are sitting down and cannot possibly take another step. You and others like you will complain for hours on end about how your feet hurt. Why? Because those five inch stilettos that once completed you have in the end betrayed you. They look like wonderful pieces of art but feel horrendously like a torture chamber. Without a doubt, Mr. Blahnik, Mr. Choo and Mr. Louboutin, have not spent an entire evening in their creations.Aesthetically, there are plenty of reasons to gravitate towards heels. They make your calves look toned without having to spend hours at the gym. They create an illusion of a daintier foot. And emotionally, they make you feel sexy.“Heels are a staple in my closet” says Irina, a hostess at Milestone’s. “They aren’t comfortable but they make me feel like money.” When asked why she wears heels to a job where she spends most of her time standing she responded with, “I’m 5’4” and the extra four inches help me look people in the eye. I’m not overlooked in heels.” She spoke to me at the beginning of her shift looking confident and a couple of hours later when my party and I had settled our bill, she was leaning on a co-worker in an attempt to soothe her feet.Irina’s sentiments are echoed by other heelaholics like her. According to a study performed by the American Podiatric Medical Association 42% of women admit they would wear a shoe they liked even if it gave them discomfort. Even worse 73% had admitted to already having a shoe related foot issue.What do these shoe related foot issues consist of? Be forewarned this is not forthe faint of heart. Bunions (deformation of the joint where your big toe meets your foot), calluses and corns (yellow hardened skin around your toes and the sole of your foot), in grown nails and many more conditions that would make revealing your toes at the beach humiliating. Those are just conditions affecting your feet.

Your Achilles tendon is also a victim. Because your no longer using it to its full potential it begins to shorten and will then ache when wearing flats. High heels also distort your centre of balance. Your back is forced to compensate creating a strain on your back muscles which can eventually lead to severe back pain and tension related migraines.

How high is too high?The American Podiatric Medical Association defines a high heel as footwear with a heel greater than two inches. It is at this height that podiatrists have determined heels begin to wreak havoc on your body. Your feet are meant to evenly distribute the pressure placed on them when you want to walk from A toB. High heels prevent the pressure from being distributed properly. Most of the pressure is being absorbed by the front of yourfoot. Also, the unnatural position of your foot partnered with the earth’s gravitational pull and you have a situation where friction and tension destroy your once perfect little toes.Today, it almost seems impossible to obtain that aura of elegance and sophistication without the perfect pair of heels. But, be warned, prolonged usage of high heels can have detrimental and sometimes irreversible damage to your feet. From disfigured toes to back aches and migraines, you may just want to think about a fashionable flat the next time you go shoe shopping. After all, unlike Sarah Jessica Parker, you probably can’t afford a foot double with your heels.

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