The High Price of High Heels


    May 16, 2006 - In the shoe department at Bloomingdales, wedges and platforms are all the rage this season, as well as lots of natural materials like cork, and among the higher-end designer shoes, a lot of ultra-high heels. The stores can't keep them in stock.

    Clerk to Customer: "Here, try this on."
    Nearly half of all American women wear high heels at some time - whether for work, school, or social occasions. But some wince at the new heights.
    Tory: "I love high heels like any woman does, but those are just... How do you walk on the streets?"
    At Temple University's School of Podiatric Medicine, they study how people walk. So we asked the Gait Study Center to help show us what happens in high heels, compared to other shoes.
    Dr. Jinsup Song and his researchers measure my shoes, outlines my feet, and put sensors up and down my body for computer studies of my strides in various styles of footwear. Plates in the floor record the pressure of my steps, while cameras capture her movements, and posture. First, I walk barefoot.

    Ben: "Just walk like you normally walk."
    Next up, a pair of low heels, one of my personal favorites. Then on to platform sandals, a fashion favorite this spring. These are a little over 4 inches high, about 3 inches without the platform sole. And finally, to a pair of 4-inch heels.
    Anita Brikman: "The changes are eye-opening. Not just in my feet, but from head to toe. Once I put on heels, the computer shows my torso tilts forward, taking my hips and spine out of alignment. My walking slows down, and I'm less stable on my feet."
    Dr. Song: "Your muscles work harder to travel the same distance."
    As the heel height goes up, so does the pressure on my ankle joint. And when the front of the foot moves down in relation to the heel, my achilles tendon tightens up.
    Dr. Lesly Robinson/Temple Podiatric Medicine: "The higher the heel, the shorter the tendon becomes, and that creates heel pain."
    The pressure on the ball of the foot also increases, and that can cause a variety of woes.
    Dr. Robinson: "You're getting overlapping toes, contracted digits, pain on the ball of your foot, calluses, and even bunions, hammertoes."
    But podiatrist Lesly Robinson doesn't want to be a total spoil sport when it comes to high heels.
    Dr. Robinson: "We all want to wear the new fashions, but we don't recommend any more than 3 hours."
    And she says wedge heels are better than thin, stiletto ones.
    Dr. Robinson: "It actually spreads out the pressure points a little more, and gives you more support, and the cork is actually good shock absorption."
    In addition to limiting your time in high heels, the Temple doctors also recommend easy stretching exercises for the Achilles tendon and the ankle. Rotate your shoes often, not wearing the same pair day after day. And if you do wear the same pair often, get new shoes every 6 months. They lose support. That applies to both men and women.
    (Copyright 2006 by Action News. All Rights Reserved.)
  2. ahhh...I wholeheartedly agree. I wore nothing but heels for 8 years straight (only about 3 years ago did I buy my first pair of running shoes since I had been a kid/young teenager)....I have a squished up pinky toe, and hammer toes. It sucks! I'd kill for flat toes :smile: