Before you put on those stiletto heels, think of the price you’ll pay!

Ingy Deif, Monday 5 Dec 2011

High heels are known for their negative effects on bones, so for the fashion-savvy that hanker for their heels this season, Ahram Online gets advice on how to balance style and health

Platforms with stiletto heels
Reuters Photo: Milan Fashion Week

This season, platforms with stiletto heels are taking fashion to new heights. And, yes, they do to turn heads and give a stylish and feminine impression. It’s no surprise, though, that these extremes have negative consequences.

Dr Adel Hamed, Professor of Orthopaedic surgery and Arthropathy, Al Azhar University criticises women's self-neglect:

"In our profession we have learned that women suffer four times as many foot problems as men.

The trouble with Egyptian ladies is that they have a general misconception regarding the health of their bones; meaning they indulge in taking good care of their children regarding this matter, providing them with dairy products and paying extra attention to their posture, while at the very same time committing major crimes against their own bones and back health. For instance, they neglect to eat calcium-fortified food , they underestimated the negative effects of a mal-positioned chair at the office or those of an unhelpful habit of regularly wearing high heels.

Here we emphasise that wearing heels all the time is a major cause for many cases of ankle fractures, arthritis, sciatica and eventually back or ankle pain, in addition to bunions, which occur when the big toe bends towards the second toe pushing the first metatarsal and causing a bony lump on the side of the foot ."

For some advice on how to fix this problem, Hala Badrawi, nutritionist and life coaching expert gives an approach to young fashion-savvy women who are attached to their high heels:

"Trending worldwide nowadays is what is largely called 'clothes with a conscience.' The fashion industry is shifting towards ensuring their clients that their products are not exploiting child labour, no animals are involved in any production process and they are reducing their impact on the environment. Additionally, they are now enlightening women on the possible harms or hazards that might come along with utilising certain products. When it comes to high heels the advice offered is:

·         to switch between trainers, stilettos, wedges, flats, pumps and even flip-flops

·         keep conscious to change your heel height every now and then

·         try and minimise how long you wear each of those heights

Try for instance, taking them off while driving, or wearing flats until you get to work, putting them back on when you arrive home and ask pharmacies for special cushions for foot support."

For instance, the orthopaedic section of your pharmacy might offer gel implants with arch support. Or they can offer just the arch support implant, which looks like an oval-shaped lump of gel.

Badrawi adds, "if you find yourself totally hooked on the idea of mounting those platforms on a regular basis, extra stress should be placed on strengthening your bones, as those might get easily strained or twisted along the way if they are fragile and vulnerable."

Regarding this matter, Dr Fawzi El-Shobaki, Professor of Nutrition at the National Institute of Research offers the following advice:

"When it comes to maintaining good bones, calcium is the word and nutrition is the key. It is essential to pack on foods rich in calcium and Vitamin D, like dairy products such as yoghurt and cheese, various leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, apricots, dried figs and fish, such as sardines anchovies."

Also, notably important is exercise. It not only strengthens the muscles in your ankles, calves, thighs, back and stomach (i.e. your core), but it has also been known to make bones more resistant if you have been doing a good job of fortifying them with Vitamin D and calcium.

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