High heels: Friend or foe?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Once might be a fluke, but when two Miss USAs fall while walking in high heels, you know women everywhere have a problem. Both tumbles happened during the evening gown competition in 2007 and 2008.

And, we've all seen women in high heels trip and even tumble through the years after catching their heels in their flowing gowns and skirts, in flared slacks, stair steps, slippery surfaces, uneven walkways, grates, curbs, dance floors, rugs and carpeting. The much-noted, televised spills of the Miss USAs point out the dangers associated with wearing high heels.

"Wearing them affects the entire body, particularly the knee, hip and spine," said Gerard W. Clum, D.C., president of Life Chiropractic College West in Hayward, Calif.

"The abnormal weight bearing and stressful posture induced by high heels can strain both the lower back and the neck - not to mention the feet, ankles and knees." If high heels are a must (fashion? workplace? social event?), the medical experts advise women not to wear them for more than two hours a day.

So, where does that leave fashion-conscious women? Well, no one's saying you have to stick to flats the rest of the time. Instead, doctors suggest choosing heels of two inches in height or less as a compromise.

A two-inch height may not produce that sexy, "well turned heel" look of higher heels both women and men may be crazy about, but it's obviously a whole lot safer and much less embarrassing than falling down in public.