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Health Watch: High Heel Danger

stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - There is a new warning about wearing high heels and how they can cause permanent damage to your feet and legs. 

Teetering in towering heels, it might be stylish, but the new research says it could shorten the calf muscle and damage the Achilles tendon.

“I’ve been wearing them my whole life.  I’m 50-years-old, and I love them,” said Jane Reynolds, ofPhiladelphia.  She might be lucky because the new research says high heel damage can be permanent.

“It’s the high price of fashion,” said Dr. Steven Raikin, with the Rothman Institute atJeffersonUniversityHospital.  He says the foot gets used to being in a tip-toed position, with high heels.

“When your foot is pointing down your Achilles tendon has no tension on it, so within a few minutes a tendon starts tightening up more and more.  You take the high heel shoe off and the tendon is still tight,” said Dr. Raikin.

The new research in the Journal of Applied Physiology says the tendon and muscle distortion caused by high heels lasts, even when you switch to flats or bare feet.

“It’s that change in position from tight Achilles tendon with the foot pointing down to that flat position.  It’s that sudden change that the problem stays there.  It doesn’t go away quite as quickly as you’d think,” said Dr. Raikin.  He says a runner’s stretch, with your toe turned in slightly, can help stiletto loving women avoid permanent tendon and muscle damage.  But there’s also the risk of bunions and a variety of other foot problems linked to high heels.  It’s a price many women appear to be willing to pay.

“People think maybe I’ll get foot problems in the future, but I want to look good today,” said Dr. Raikin.

Research has shown super high heels, worn over a long period of time, are most damaging, so you can try a lower heel.  And when you’re in the office, or when you can, switch to flats.

For more information on the high heel study, CLICK HERE.

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