High Heel Shoes: The Bitter Price Of Elegance


When it comes to shoes, some women will go through hell for a pair of the London Jimmy Choo brand. The brand became notable in the fashion circles, especially for its high heeled bridals since 1996. Since wearing high-heeled shoes is an art, women deserve medals for learning to walk in them let alone run! But what effect does wearing high heel have on our bodies?

Most women believe that if they wear high-heeled shoes they will become more attractive, sexier, more cultured, corporate and sophisticated as well as boost their confidence. These days at social functions, including churches, as every day wear, especially in the corporate world, Nigerian ladies can be seen wearing these ridiculously high-heeled shoes that come as high as 14 to 16 inches.

There are different kinds — the wedge, clogs, ankle strap heels, wedge sandals and the high heel sandals and they come in assorted colours.

Unknown to many, the constant wearing of these shoes presents some very serious health risks as experts have warned that they could constitute harm to the feet, hip, back and even lead to permanent body deformities. “The negative effects of wearing high heels can be experienced in particular sections of the feet, knees, legs and back.

Dr Onyebuchi Ahoma, a Clinical Psychologist, says that ladies who wear heels put themselves through unnecessary misery and pain. “Some of them cannot even walk straight on heels because they feel uncomfortable but because they think it is chic and trendy they want to endure and ignore the pains they feel,’’ he said.

According to him, this is what happens when women choose fashionable footwear over health, and many of them aren’t even aware that they are causing harm to their health. “Years of wearing heels can lead to bunions or other infractions of the toe and calf. These signs often surface in middle aged women.

“When a woman is walking on heels, she is basically walking on the balls of her feet. The ball of the foot will experience intense pressure and this pressure more than doubles with every inch in the height of shoe heel. “Ankle injuries are always a threat and the degree of injuries can extend from sprains to fractures. Calluses, corns and bunions can be formed on feet due to high heels, especially if the shoes are tight or walked on for long periods.

“Metatarsalgia is a condition affecting the ball of the foot, where all the weight is concentrated on when a woman is in heels. “Hammertoes is a condition where the toes are maintained in downward curled position because of the continual confinement of the feet in the high heels. “The muscles of the feet become tight and are unable to stretch and straighten when out of the shoes.

“Women may complain of numbness, sharp pain and burn in the toes and ball of the foot when wearing high heeled shoes — all of which are symptoms of `Morton’s Neuroma’ which is the inflammation of the tissue surrounding the nerve between the third and fourth toes,’’ he told newsmen.

Dr Babalola Olatunji, a Consultant Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgeon with the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi (NOHIL), Lagos, says that high heels cause much more pressure on the knees than what the knees are designed for, and could give rise to a condition called osteoarthritis as well as other joint disorders.

Olatunji noted that women who wear high heels frequently have a higher incidence of degenerative joint disease of the knees. This is because they cause a decrease in the normal rotation of the foot which puts more rotation stress on the knee. He says that a similar condition could occur with the Achilles tendon where it could retain its shortened state even when a woman is not wearing high heels.

“The calves will tend to retain the contracted and shortened state due to the feet being in high heels. The calf muscles may become difficult or virtually impossible to straighten without medical intervention. “High heels can cause a change in the way the muscles and tendons work together while walking. Normally, a tendon stretches and shortens, making walking easy on the muscles of the calf.


Mr Joe Onalo, an engineer, thinks that ladies who wear high heels look attractive. “I admire ladies on high heels because they have a way of catching one ’s fancy, attention and admiration.’’