Friday, July 3, 2015

Are high heels bad for your feet?

What damage are high heels doing to your feet? Photograph: Getty Images/Untitled X-Ray
I have one pair of high heels, and they hurt. The pain is mostly in my feet because they are forced into an unnaturally extended position with my toes bunched upwards and heel sticking up. My lower back isn’t too happy either. But who cares? I’ve joined the 78% of women who wear them almost daily, despite them causing pain, on average, after one hour and six minutes. High heels are perceived to be worth the pain because they make legs look taller, feet smaller and the body thinner. But research published this month from South Korea in the International Journal of Clinical Practice suggests that high heels may actually alter the muscle balance around the ankle joint, leading to instability and balance problems. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery has reported that the number of high heel related injuries in America doubled from 7,097 in 2002 to 14,140 in 2012.

Most of these injuries were foot and ankle sprains in women between the ages of 20 and 30 in the evening: alcohol and high heels are not a good mix. High heels push the centre of gravity forwards and upwards so you have to constantly change your posture to keep your balance.

Professor Neil Cronin of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, author of a review of the long-term effects of high heels, warns that they increase the changes in length that a muscle goes through when you walk. Usually that change is small. But wear high heels and it is larger, and the strain goes more through the tendon joining the muscle to the bone, as it usually does. The Achilles tendon at the heel can shorten and get stiff. Cronin says women who wear heels for years develop such chronically short muscles and tendons that when they try to wear flat shoes again their calves hurt. Studies have also suggested high heels increase the risk of arthritis, but it’s difficult to prove. So should you stick to flats?

The solution

It’s hardly news that you can fall over in high heels but the evidence of ankle instability suggests some care is needed. Cronin advises thicker heels (wedges anyone?) as they help balance, and keeping heels to 4cm or below. Wearing soft insoles can reduce pressure on your knees. You should alternate with flats (Cronin advises limiting high heels to two to three days a week) take them off if you sit at work and do stretching exercises for your feet and calves (for example, pick up a pencil from the floor with your toes). Or not walk in them at all.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Can’t do heels? Don’t do Cannes Hadley Freeman Hadley Freeman

 Yesterday I did something rather subversive: I wore flat shoes in Cannes. I did not, I must confess, feel especially Che Guevara-like as I waddled down the Croisette to interview a Hollywood actress in town to promote a big budget film. But in retrospect, I see myself as a modern-day Joan of Arc fighting the noble fight among the barricades.
As has been widely reported, this week at the film festival a group of women was turned away on the red carpet because they were wearing flat shoes; which in Cannes are presumably known as les chaussures du diable. That one of these women is allegedly an amputee adds further fire to my theory that this is all a plot from a bad Robert Altman parody of film festivals. The film-maker Asif Kapadia tweeted that his wife had initially been turned away because she, too, dared to wear the devil’s shoes (aka flats).
Sensing stirrings of unrest Thierry Frémaux, the director of the festival, took to Twitter to insist that “the rumour saying the festival insists on high heels for women on the red carpet is unfounded”. I like to imagine Frémaux writing that tweet while twirling his evil moustache and stroking a Christian Louboutin stiletto in his lap.
Emma Thompson at 2014 Golden Globes
Frémaux knows he has room to wiggle here – you know, like a woman wiggles and wobbles atop her stilettos – because there is no actual written stipulation that women must walk around on stilts. Instead, the rubric states, with the usual vagueness, that women must be elegantly dressed with smart footwear. The Oscars are the same. And, speaking as one who has been reprimanded several times over the years by officials while covering the Academy Awards, I can testify that a world of Emily Post-like stipulations regarding etiquette resides within those fuzzy guidelines.
Once I was told off for wearing a dress that showed my (ugh, the horror!) knees; another time I was reprimanded for not wearing a full-length gown. Twice my much-beloved party shoes with three-inch heels were singled out by officials as not being really Oscar-worthy. I have come to think of them as the Bill Murray of shoes: glorious in my eyes but bafflingly unappreciated by the Academy.
Only someone bereft of the powers of sight, hearing and access to a televison or the internet will be surprised that intelligent professional women are expected to look like Barbie dolls at a film festival. Indeed, coverage of women’s fashion on the red carpet has become so demented over the past few years that some women have taken enjoyable stands against it, such as Elisabeth Moss sticking up her middle finger at the E! network’s Mani Cam (the now wisely retired camera designed specifically to inspect women’s manicures), and Cate Blanchett bending down to a camera as it lecherously panned up and down her body to demand: “Do you do that to the guys?”
Emma Thompson, who has always struck me as an excellent lass for a good night out, has for some time been waging her own war against high heels, including waggling them around in her hand, along with a martini, as she took to the Golden Globes stage in 2014, looking for all the world like a student on her way home from the uni bar on a Friday night.
As Tina Fey said at the Golden Globes this year: “Steve Carell’s Foxcatcher look took two hours to put on, including his hair styling and makeup. Just for comparison, it took me three hours today to prepare for my role as human woman.”
What has made Cannes’ open acknowledgement of this so amusing is that the film festival has attempted to put some kind of feminist spin on proceedings this year. Salma Hayek gave a talk this week, held by UN Women, on sexism in Hollywood. Probably the most adored film so far has been Carol, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel about an affair between two women. But the movie industry’s sporadic attempts to pay lip service to gender equality are invariably laughable, because they’re done against a background of pay inequality and female objectification.
Cannes, trying rather frantically to quell the furore, has issued a statement saying that the “festival’s hosts and hostesses” have been reminded that “there is no specific mention about the height of women’s heels [in the rules].” But the fault here doesn’t lie with Cannes, or even film festivals, but with the hilariously retrograde assumptions about what still constitutes elegance in a woman.
I’ve seen some commentators online – all men, funnily enough – snark that it’s no different to demand women wear high heels than it is to insist men wear bow ties. They’re absolutely right, of course – if bow ties render them next to immobile and leave them in crushing pain with lifelong foot problems. And maybe they do; I’ve never worn one. I sometimes wonder if men think women have special powers that render them magically able to walk on their tiptoes all night without any pain (and enjoy hours of makeup and hairstyling, awkward and uncomfortable dresses and starvation diets).
It has always seemed exactly right to me that the most famous designers of high heels in the world, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin, are men. The assumption still is that in order to look elegant women have to be in some kind of self-restraining physical pain. Because that still, apparently, is the look of a human woman.

Monday, April 13, 2015

This Crazy High Heel Hack Just Might Be Genius

Prepare yourself for an experience with pure genius, guys—that's how good this high heel hack, courtesy of Vanderpump Rules' Katie Maloney, sounds.
"Put maxi pads in your high heels. It holds your foot snug in the shoe, it offers a little bit more cushion, and as your feet sweat, it absorbs the moisture," she told me during a phone call last week. With my mind blown, I asked her to clarify, and it's exactly what you'd think: insert the pad with the sticky side down, trimming if you need for size, and then get ready for a comfortable night of merriment (or standing on your feet at a work event).
Also, if you're wondering whether this means Katie has had maxi pads in her shoes every time we've seen her at a Pump event, the answer is "most of the time." If you're a huge fan of the show, you must read my entire chat with her. found her to be super relatable, and she shared some mean beauty DIYs (as well as answering my fan-girl question about Kyle Richards' hair).
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Photos: Courtesy of brand