Ditch the “high” life

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At some point in our lives, specifically during teenage, we have all tried hanging from tree branches and overhead handles inside school buses in the hopes of growing taller and at least reaching the shoulder of our father or an elder brother or a much older uncle. Sigh. Those were the painful days of attempting something to improve our bodies. Apart from playing around and indulging in a host of other physical activities. Teasing friends about who could hang for the longest time was a pastime in itself. Add to it, the excitement of finally reaching the shoulders of our idols. As if the shoulder is the measure of who they are and where they have reached. They were such exciting times. Heels were for the mothers, aunties and the fashionable crowd and it was a unspoken tease, that it was specifically designed for the vertically challenged. Such a prophesy might have been made in jest back then, but it seems that now it’s like a silent hope for the thousands of “vertically challenged” men and women taking recourse to those 4-inch pieces of sticks that promise to offer them a piece of joy from up above the sky so high.



The fantasy dreamed by so many women, of wearing these and reaching up closer to their man, while the men wanna stay higher than the rest and pretend to be unreachable. Sweet dreams are truly made of these. But what happens when the carriage turns into the pumpkin after midnight and the dance floor and music all seem to get lost in the flux of reality? The glass shatters. Yes. This is exactly the sequence of events that’s going to take over, once we realise the harm caused to our bodies, by methods used to apparently develop ourselves.

Researches have shown that more than 72% women have worn heels at some point in their lives, with the number being more than 30% in the age group after 50. So much for looking good. But that’s not the only example of people going to extreme levels in order to look good and be attractive. Surveys have shown that men feel more embarassed about their short height more than women. And so, to ease their minds, “elevator shoes” were invented. These shoes have a special insole that immediately adds inches to the wearer. Here’s the catch. High heels have a much more adverse effect on women than on men. That’s probably because women’s high heels are “higher” and worn much longer. Although men don’t wear elevator shoes too often nowadays, these high heels were quite a fashion statement for men many centuries. Yes, they love high heels. But since they never seem to suffer from anything, it’s we who are at the receiving end.

The normal S-curve shape of the back acts as a shock absorber, reducing stress on the vertebrae. But high heels cause you to lean forward and causes a poor alignment, which may lead to muscle overuse and back pain. Daily high heel use for long hours can actually lead to changes in our entire anatomy. And since medical miracles don’t happen as frequently as shown on TV, we are bound to suffer from it for the rest of our lives. As a result of wearing these high heels, undue stress is put on the back and knees as the weight of the body shifts forward. Together with this, calve muscles can shorten and tendons may thicken. Nowadays Spondylolisthesis is very common. It occurs when one vertebra slips over another and it’s one of the most common effects of the killer heels. Sciatica. Another common word heard in most cases of bone health disorders of today’s generation. It is caused due to the compression of the sciatic nerve. Foraminal Stenosis in the lower back can cause symptoms of shooting pains , in addition to numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, spasms, cramping and pain, that radiates through the buttocks and down the legs. Sciatica is often associated with this particular set of lower body symptoms. These are all the heightened forms of seemingly insignificant pains in the calves, knees and hips. Since we don’t usually attach importance to warning signs of upcoming danger, avoidable ailments such as these re-introduce themselves in bigger forms in later years of our lives when the painkillers and injections  refuse to work any longer.

High heels look good. They can make or break an awesome dress. They bring recognition and well, parity in some cases. You can’t do without them and neither is it healthy to continue wearing them extensively. After all, bad habits are more attractive than good ones.

So what should be done to check the problem?

The obvious answer would be to immediately stop wearing heels. But for the thousands of others wanting to get some leverage, there has to be another solution, right?

And what can they be? Research on these have shown that simple stretching before and after wearing heels helps to free up and mobilise the muscles and other parts which might be in tension. Also, buy your shoes in the afternoon when your feet are the largest, so that when your legs expand, the shoe-size is just nice and there is no over-cramping. Always try and avoid buying high heels with the pointed -toe design, as they increase the risk of causing bunions,where the big toe deviates laterally causing irritated skin around the bunion, pain while walking, joint redness and pain and even blisters. Also, make sure not to wear heels higher than 2-inches,and even if you wear higher than that, be sure to have a large number of flat shoes so that you can alternate between them.

After reading this, I hope you decide that you don’t need high heels at all. Come to think of it, just how much of a difference can a few inches of vertical growth make? If that’s not helpful enough, this is what our dear old Shakespeare had to say about petite women –

“Though she be but little, she is fierce”













Believer. Reader. Brooder.