Protect Your Legs From High Heel Damage

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High Heel Runners

Women have long sacrificed comfort for style by wearing high heels. Although you're probably willing to tolerate some pain or discomfort for the sake of fashion, you may be surprised by how much long-term damage those heels can do to your feet and legs. For female athletes, high heels can become a serious performance hindrance by leading to:

Knee Damage and Osteoarthritis
Extended high heel use puts tremendous stress on the knees. Over time it can result in joint degeneration and osteoarthritis, which might even require knee replacement surgery.

Foot Damage
As an athlete, you depend on your feet for nearly every move you make. Unfortunately, high heels can cause a wide range of foot damage, from hammer toes to ingrown toenails to bunions to sprained ankles.

Muscle Strain
Researchers at Griffin University in Queensland, Australia examined the effects of high heels by comparing women who wore two-inch heels for 40 hours per week for two or more years with women who wore heels less than 10 hours weekly. Published in the January issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, the study found that high heel wearers not only had abnormal strides, they also suffered from strained calf muscles.

How to Stay Safe in Your High Heels
Fortunately, you don't have to sacrifice athletic performance to the goddess of fashion. Follow these simple tips, and feel good about wearing high heels on your night out.

  • Cut your toenails straight
  • Rotate the pairs of high heels you wear
  • Avoid overly tight and pointy shoes
  • Opt for lower heels whenever possible
  • Save high heels for special occasions
  • Replace your heels with flat shoes when walking to work or class, driving a car, riding a bus or sitting at a desk
  • Take care of your calves and feet by rolling with a softball or foam roller

If you are a fan of high heels who is experiencing foot or leg pain, contact a foot specialist to talk through your options. It is possible to perform well on the field and look great off of it.

Photo:  Lunalina on Flickr

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