By Dr Alireza Khosroabady DPM
High heeled shoes are a woman’s best friend and possibly her worst enemy.
A high heeled pump visually elongates the look of a woman’s calf, giving even those gals with less-than-perfect legs a more long-and-leggy look. Worn with pants, high heeled shoes give the petite woman stature and make all women look more slender.
But high heeled shoes – particularly those with heels two or more inches in height – can harm a woman, leading her to possible sprained ankles and other maladies.
Possibly every woman who wears high heels has experienced at least once that sudden wobble and lurch when she makes a misstep and trips. Usually the only thing “injured” is pride, but high heels do and will cause a sprained ankle – sometimes severe enough to require medical attention.
When the ankle’s ligaments are stretched just a bit over their normal range when a woman trips in heels, there’s usually little pain and swelling and life may go on as before.
But if a trip in heels results in a sharp pain and quick swelling, the ligaments have been extremely stressed and possibly torn and a visit to the doctor, plus curtailed activities for several days or weeks will be called for.
In fact, a severe sprain could really be a fractured bone. The fibula (the long bones in the lower leg) or bones in the foot itself could be broken.
Therefore any fall that results in considerable ankle/lower leg pain should be taken very seriously.
So should women relegate their footwear to sensible running shoes and perhaps the occasional ballet flat? Not necessarily.
Actually, a shoe wardrobe of flats only isn’t best for the foot. Low heels of one-half to three-quarters of an inch are great for everyday wear. A variety of flats and low pumps is a good shoe wardrobe. Save those higher heels (around two inches) for special occasions. Walk longer distances in flat shoes (and for really long distances, invest in a good pair of supportive walking shoes) and change into your higher heeled shoes when you arrive at your destination.
In addition, avoid backless heels as much as possible. The lack of a support to your back ankle can be very stressful on your muscles. Even slingback pumps (a modified mule with a strap that goes around the back of the heel) is better than no back at all, but shoes with full ankle backs are best.
A two-inch heel really is as high as a woman should go. Heels higher than two inches move a woman’s spine/buttocks out of alignment and can cause bunions, lower back pain and a host of other ailments. Two-inch heels still elongate the leg and can give even the shortest and most petite of women a leggy look, while preserving leg health and minimizing the chance of ankle sprains.
It’s also a good idea to stay fit and exercise – women who exercise have stronger muscles. Stronger muscles help women avoid strains. At the end of the day, stretch your calf, foot muscles and heel. This helps them keep or increase their range of motion.
Finally, is you have any foot pain at all for more than a few days, it’s best to see a doctor, particularly a podiatrist, as soon as possible. The more chronic a foot or ankle problem is, the harder it is to treat.
Dr. Alireza Khosroabady is a Fellowship trained foot and ankle surgeon. He finished his surgical residency in New York. He also completed a one year fellowship at the Rubin institute for Advanced Orthopedics / International Center for Limb Lengthening at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore Maryland with world renowned Orthopedic Surgeons. He is practicing in Los Angeles CA . More information visit http://www.fixmyfoot.com you can request his free book.