By CRISTIN REECE
No pain, no gain — that seems to be the reasoning behind wearing high heeled shoes, even though recent studies suggest that type of footwear isn’t the healthiest or easiest on feet.
Researchers recently reported the higher the heel, the worse the shoes are for feet, and list several podiatrical problems like bunions, lumps that develop on the joint of the big toe that sometimes have to be removed by surgery; heel spurs; Plantar Fasciitis, which is inflammation of the thick connective tissue on the sole of the foot; shortening of the Achilles tendon; and knee and back pain.
“Lord, yes,” City of Palestine Financial Director and longtime heel wearer Elizabeth Saegert said. “They’re right and I have the hammer toes and heel spurs to prove it. I started wearing heels at 13 years old — that’s just what we did in those days.”
Palestine Herald Press Accounting Clerk Demitra Wilkins, who sports some of the highest (and only) heels around the newspaper’s office, said she got her first heels at 12 years old.
“And as I got older, the heels just got higher — the higher the better,” she said. “I am blessed in that they never seemed to bother me. My sisters all had trouble wearing them, but I never did and still don’t, thankfully.”
Women admit it’s what the shoe does for them, rather than to them, that keeps them literally on their toes, wearing sky-high heels.
“I love wearing heels,” said Palestine resident Katie Floyd, who admitted she’s been wearing heels regularly since the age of 8. “They’re just more fancy — a way to be more fashionable. I know they’re not great but I love them. I haven’t noticed any problems (with her feet) other than I definitely want to take them off at the end of the day.”
Wilkins said her professional life, and parts of her personal life, just seemed to dictate her choice of footwear through the years.
“My husband was a pastor of a large church, so it was expected to dress — we all dressed up — and high heels just seem to work better with those dressy outfits,” she said. “My mother would give me these gorgeous suits and flats just weren’t going to work.”
Doris Howell, of Palestine, knows first hand the dangers of wearing high heels.
“I wore them all the time when I was younger,” she said. “But then I fell down a couple flights of stairs because of my shoes, so now I’m a little scared of them.”
Howell said she was fortunate not to sustain any serious injuries, and despite the dangers they pose understands how many women feel when they are wearing the popular high-heeled styles.
“I thought they looked good, especially for an office,” she said. “I felt like they helped me look the part of a professional and helped portray respectability.”
Saegert still wears heels on the job.
“I admit I am definitely a high heel junkie,” she said with a laugh. “When I moved here from Dallas, one of the first questions my friends asked was ‘where are you going to buy shoes?’ I love they way they look.”
A study published recently in The Journal of Applied Physiology reportedly found wearing high heels could lead to permanent damage of the calf muscles by increasing the mechanical strain on the muscles and shortening the muscles’ fibers, all thanks to the flexed, toes-pointed position of the feet that remains even after removing the shoes.
“The structure of the foot is just not meant to be crammed in the shoe that way,” Dr. Braxton Little, a podiatrist at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif., told ABC News, as published on the network’s website. “It just puts the body in a very unnatural position.”
So what’s fashion-forward female to do?
Health professionals, researchers and even veteran heel wearers recommend wearing heels in moderation.
“You really do have to know yourself and your body well enough to determine whether or not you can wear heels without harm,” Wilkins said. “My sisters say the same thing. You may absolutely love the look, but if your ankles are too weak, if your bones aren’t strong enough to sustain a fall, then don’t. Find what you’re comfortable with, what you can manage and what’s appropriate in your day-to-day life.”