New research has shown a clear link between high heels, foot deformity, osteoarthritis and other injury.

A comprehensive review of a host of studies on the deleterious health effects of high heels, published in the journal BMC Public Health, found that while high heels “bring psychosexual benefits to women, they are detrimental to their health.”

“The… review provides clear evidence of an association between high heel wear and hallux valgus [foot deformity], musculoskeletal pain and first-party injury,” the authors noted, adding that high heels increased the risk of osteoarthritis.

Dress codes require women to wear high heels

Referring to the UK government’s recent rejection of a call for a ban on dress codes forcing women to wear high heels, the authors said freedom of choice was vital and the issue of compulsory high heels at work should be further addressed.

Devan Odaya, a leading designer from Barker Footwear, explained that the narrow fronts of high heels exert immense pressure on the toes, often accompanied by musculoskeletal pain and in some cases, deformity. Due to the unnatural angle, abnormal pressure is also borne by the foot’s heel, causing a detrimental knock-on effect on the knee joints.

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“It has also been shown that high heels cause unnatural bending of the knees and if worn for long periods, can shorten the posterior leg muscles. The Achilles tendon may also be damaged and back pain is a common symptom.”

Odayan said women were increasingly embracing the “boyfriend” fashion trend by wearing more comfortable masculine clothes and shoes, inspiring Barker Footwear’s women’s range, styled on its top male shoe designs.

“The trendy Barker women’s range utilises comfortable, flat soles, providing significant relief from high heels for women who are fashion, quality and health conscious,” he said, predicting that the growing trend would have a positive impact on women’s foot health.

The Barker Footwear women’s range recommended retail price starts at about R1 149,00 and is available at selected stores across the country.

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.