A new study suggests that the shoes you love are putting you at risk for muscle injury, even when you walk barefoot.
When you wear a high-heeled shoe, your foot is forced into a plantar-flexed position. In other words, you’re pointing your toes as long as you’ve got the shoes on. Imagine Barbie feet.
Day after day of teetering in towering heels appears to shorten fibers in the calf muscle, and make the Achilles tendon stiffen instead of flex with each step, a new study published last week in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests. (You can access the abstract here, but you’ll have to pay to read the whole thing.) Both of these factors may contribute to muscle fatigue, and potential injury.
In this study, researchers analyzed the way longtime high-heel lovers used their muscles to walk across the room, both with their heels and without, and compared their gait to that of women who generally wore flats. The nine habitual high heel wearers had worn heels of at least 5 centimeters (that’s just under 2 inches) at least 40 hours every week for at least two years; the 10 control participants usually wore heels for less than 10 hours each week.
The heels devotees tended to walk in that perpetually flexed-foot way, even when they walked barefoot. “The results suggest that long-term high heel use may compromise muscle efficiency in walking, and are consistent with reports that high heel wearers often experience discomfort and muscle fatigue. Long-term high heel use may also increase the risk of strain injuries,” write the authors, led by Dr. Neil J. Cronin, currently a researcher at Finland’s University of Jyvaskyla.
Now until these “little slices of heaven that come in pairs” have FDA labels,and or having women drop dead like flies, we as fashion designers ARE NOT going to stop designing these “artistic symbols style, sex and pleasure for both sexes,and im sure none of you are going to stop buying them. ( I have a MEAN shoe fetish of my own,….omg!!!!!) So with that being discussed, lets find solutions to take care of the health of your “lil toesies”. Read on for three important types of strengthening and stretching exercises for anyone who is head over heels for high heels.
- Calves. Hoofing it on heels leaves your calf muscles in a shortened position, which can mean weakened muscles when the heels come off. Remember to stretch out your calves after wearing heels in order to give them relief.
Find three more important areas every high-heel wearer should strengthen after the break.
- Ankles. Walking on stick-thin stiletto heels is no small feat. To help prevent a tumble and serious injury, incorporate simple exercises that strengthen your ankles, like walking on your tiptoes and doing squats on the Bosu.
- Balance. The lift you get from wearing heels also challenges your body’s sense of equilibrium, which can mean a lot of muscles are working to keep you upright. This can lead to more pressure on your lower back, so add a few yoga moves to your morning routine, trace the alphabet with one foot while standing on one leg, and focus on ab-strengthening exercises in order to help your body reposition itself correctly when you’ve strutting with those four-inchers.
- Achilles tendon. If you’re a regular heel wearer, switching abruptly from heels to flats can cause Achilles tendonitis — when your Achilles tendon, which attaches to your calf muscle, becomes inflamed. Make sure you keep your Achilles tendon happy with a few strengthening stretches like this one: stand on a step or curb with your heels hanging off, and rise up and down on your toes.
As discussed I have a “Desperately Disfunctional” ;P shoe fetish so for more examples of my work, visit my online portfolio @ http://www.wix.com/freelancedesignernyc/designnow