Are Heels Ruining Your Workouts?

Most women love a good pair of heels to compliment her clothing while showing off her calf muscles, but do we think about the risks that accompany wearing heels?

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I remember in high school I ran cross country and track. I suffered throughout the season with shin splints and my coaches always said, “Quit wearing heels to school!”

I wasn’t wearing stilettos or anything to that extent, but I was wearing some heeled flats and sandals that my coaches believed added to the pain of my shin splints.

This is what I imagine my coaches saw every time they saw me in heels.

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Now that I am interning for a company, I wear heels (actual heels) on a regular basis. I am still training and running, and it makes me wonder, will my shin splints come back because I’m wearing heels?

The facts:

  • Heels put your foot and ankle in an unnatural position.
  • There is not enough shock absorbed through heels, and the taller the heel, the less shock absorbent it becomes.
  • Shock from heels can lead to problems in the knees, ankles, calves, back, shoulders, hips and neck.
  • Heels can assist those with arch problems like plantar fasciitis because the heel decreases the force on the Achilles tendon.

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How to cope:

  • Limit your time in heels by wearing them in moderation.
  • If you have a long commute, wear flats while commuting and switch into heels at your destination.
  • Go for a lower heel – ones under 2 inches. Shoes at 1 inch tall decreases the weight on  your feet from 76 percent at 3 inches to 22 percent at 1 inch.
  • Stretch your calves! They can suffer the most while wearing heels, so it is important to stretch. If you notice any significant changes or knots in your calves, avoid wearing heels for some time.

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Helpful hints:

  • Buy shoes with leather insoles to avoid slipping.
  • Buy shoes in the afternoon when your foot is the largest so your feet can breathe easy all day.
  • Avoid pointed shoes that can narrow the foot and cut off circulation.
  • Buy enough variety of shoes that your choices are foot-friendly.

 

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How I Wear Heels:
  • Leave a pair of flats in my car if I need to switch shoes.
  • Avoid wearing heels for multiple days in a row.
  • Take time to stretch during breaks.
  • Drink lots of water throughout the day to increase blood circulation and avoid cramps.
  • Keep on strutting.

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Citations:

Women's Running

Women's Health Magazine

American Osteopathic Association

Spine Health Institute of the Florida Hospital Medical Group
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