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Wearing High Heels for Long Hours Can Damage Bones and Cause Arthritis

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

Women’s shoes are notorious for being long on visual appeal and short on practicality, and an expert in rheumatology is pointing out that when it comes to stiletto and pencil heels, besides being a hazard to walk in, they are a prescription for degenerative arthritis.

Bunions and fore-foot pain, stressed calf muscles and back, waist and knee pain are also a danger of wearing too-high heels. According to India, if you really want to wear higher heels, opt for wedges or platform shoes no higher than 1 1/2 inches — and teenagers shouldn’t wear them at all.

When you’re trying on shoes, most people don’t walk more than a few feet, at most, to see whether they’re comfortable, let alone practical, so it’s easy to see why so many of us end up buying shoes that might end up hurting our feet. In fact, 83 percent of American adults experience regular foot pain, including that caused by bunions. While the risk for bunions is mostly genetic, shoes that are too narrow or fit poorly — or have very high heels — can increase your chances of getting bunions.

When it comes to running shoes, you might assume that practicality would be the main consideration when you buy them, but too often we don’t discover that the shoes we’ve chosen aren’t the right ones for us until after we begin experiencing pain or have an actual injury.

Some research even suggests that modern running shoes, with their heavily cushioned, elevated heels, may actually encourage runners to strike the ground with their heel first — a move that generates a greater collision force with the ground, leading to an increased potential for injury.

This is just one reason why it’s especially important to make sure you are properly fitted by a salesperson familiar with athletic shoe construction, and who understands what type of activity you’ll be using the shoes for.

If you’re experiencing foot pain, you’ve probably already discovered one of the quickest ways to alleviate it: Take off your shoes and go barefoot. Runners are familiar with a particular type of pain called plantar fasciitis, which is inflammation in the ligament that runs along the sole of your foot. One cause of plantar fasciitis is stress placed on the heel bone and soft tissues — and, often, improperly fitted footwear is part of the problem.

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