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Footwear Fashionistas: You are Changing Your Anatomy

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Fashion police and the American Podiatric Medicine Association are at odds again. We know that those ‘to die for’ high heels that Carrie Bradshaw wears on 'Sex & the City' can be rough on our feet and are ‘killer’ not only because they look great, but are sometimes down right dangerous to walk in.

It appears that there is a long-term cost with wearing high heels and I don’t mean just your credit card balance.

According to a research team in England, along with aching feet and a variety of foot deformities, years of high heel wearing can actually alter the anatomy of the calf muscles and tendons. The study published in the Journal of Experimental Biology last week stated that the incline of the high heel actually causes the calf muscles to contract. This causes the anatomy to change because the muscle fibers shorten and thickens the Achilles tendon, which attaches the heel bone to the calf muscle.

The study compared women who wore heels almost every day for two years to those who did not wear heels. The women who wore heels had calf muscles that were 13 percent shorter. This is why some women feel pain when they try to walk in flats or sneakers. Marian Hannan, a senior scientist at the Institute of Aging Research at Hebrew Senior Life in Boston, hopes that this new information will have an impact on how future shoes are designed. The information should help the industry understand how women can still be fashionable but not suffer physically.

There’s more bad news fashionistas! Flipflops are getting a bad rap too!

Podiatrists say that flip-flops offer no arch support or shock absorption, and the toes have to scrunch with every step to keep the foot from slipping.
Joanna Youner, spokesperson for American Podiatric Medicine Association states: "I have recently seen some lovely flip-flops injuries. Flip flops are meant for the beach, not for walking on cement or on vacation or at an amusement park. If you wear them, you are treating your feet poorly and you will eventually pay for it."

The reality is that sometimes our bodies and our outfits just look better with heels. A woman wants a body that looks talker and thinner because society emulates this image as attractive. Experts say that if we must wear heels we should wear them for short periods of time. Another solution is to wear a wider heel that distributes weight better.

One last tidbit of advice is to shop for shoes at the end of the day when your foot is larger. In this way, your foot and toes will not be cramped insuring more comfort because of a more correct fit.

“It's not a big leap to know that shoes that hurt can't be good for you”, Youner says. My advice: Mix style with common sense; a fashionable solution.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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