New research has shown a clear link between high heels, foot deformity, osteoarthritis and other injuries.
A comprehensive review of a host of studies on the health effects of high heels, published in the journal BMC Public Health, found that while high heels “bring psychosexual benefits to women, they are detrimental to their health.”
“The…review provides clear evidence of an association between high heel wear and hallux valgus [foot deformity], musculoskeletal pain and first-party injury,” the authors noted, adding that high heels increased the risk of osteoarthritis.
Referring to the UK government’s recent rejection of a call for a ban on dress codes forcing women to wear high heels, the authors said freedom of choice was vital and the issue of compulsory high heels at work should be further addressed.
Leading designer Devan Odayan from Barker Footwear explained that high heels with narrow fronts exerted immense pressure on toes, often accompanied by musculoskeletal pain and in some cases, deformity. Due to the unnatural angle, abnormal pressure is also borne by the foot’s heel, causing a detrimental knock-on effect on knee joints.
“It has also been shown that high heels cause unnatural bending of the knees and if worn for long periods, can shorten the posterior leg muscles. The Achilles tendon may also be damaged and back pain is a common symptom.”
Odayan said women were increasingly embracing the “boyfriend” fashion trend by wearing more comfortable masculine clothes and shoes, inspiring Barker Footwear’s women’s range, styled on its top male shoe designs.
“The Barker women’s range utilises comfortable, flat soles, providing significant relief from high heels for women who are fashion, quality and health conscious,” he said, predicting that the growing trend would have a positive impact on women’s foot health.