The topic of high heels being bad for your feet and body has been hotly debated over past decades. Humans have been wearing them for hundreds of years, but are we putting beauty over comfort? Or fashion over our health? Let’s dive into this and see if this discussion has any legs or ill fitted shoes to stand on.
A Brief History of High Heels
It’s been disputed when humans first started wearing high heels. Some research has shown it was as far back as ancient Egypt. Others believe they originated around the 12th century in India, where a sculpture from a temple was found that shows a woman wearing the shoes. When or wherever they originated, they did not become prominent until the 13th century, when they became a status symbol during the European Renaissance.
By the 16th century, European royalty were wearing high heels to appear taller and “larger than life”. People with authority or wealth were also referred to as “well-heeled”. Fast forward to the 17th century and King Louis XIV. He declared that only nobility could wear the shoes. He was a big fan of them and made his members of his court wear red ones. Some portraits of him showcase his elaborate heels, which include some being decorated with miniature battle scenes. High heels have gone in and out of fashion over the years and continue to be a personal preference.
A study was conducted in 2015 that involved 40 women in various years of college. They were asked to consistently wear high heels for at least three days a week over the course of a semester. The results showed that an individual might gain ankle strength over the first one to three years of use, but after prolonged use, they will eventually cause muscular imbalance. It also revealed an imbalance in four functional ankle muscles, which can severely increase your chance of ankle injury. And these are just the issues caused in the foot.
Others health problems associated with high heels involve your knees and hips. Walking in heels increases the amount of weight put on your knee joints, which in turn, can put strain on your hips. When these issues are prolonged, it can trigger trapped nerves and fractures. Another study has shown that wearing heels 3 ½ inches or higher can increase the risk of osteoporosis over the course of your life. Osteoporosis a leading cause of disability in women.
Also, general muscle pain and spasms can occur from overuse of high heels. Painful leg cramps can also be attributed to the footwear. Long-term use can shorten the muscles in your back and calves, which can lead to some pretty serious problems the older you get.
Mind over matter
Many individuals may or may not know the physical effects that can occur from wearing high heels over the span of many years. But there have been studies done, including one study in France, that highlighted the positive mental or emotional effects of wearing high heels. The shoes can offer the allure of feeling beautiful or sexy. They can attract members of the opposite sex. They can be a weapon or tool to be yielded whenever the person wearing them chooses. So, as long as a person isn’t choosing to yield that weapon over their physical health consistently, where’s the problem with a little confidence boost every now and then?
The general opinion of wearing high heels is to limit the usage of the accessory, but that the mental benefits are there for someone choosing to wear high heels.
Should feeling beautiful cause discomfort? It’s a question each individual has to ask themselves. We as North Americans have the freedom to wear what we want, so do as you please, but try and show a little bit of respect to your feet. Be good to them, and they’ll be good to you.