One For The Girls: Heels v Trainers

Victoria Beckham, queen of the vertiginous high heeled shoes and boots, caused a ripple in the press last year when she was spotted wearing box fresh, bright white Stan Smith trainers in the run up to the New York Fashion Show, as reported in The Telegraph.

A quick google shows the UK tabloid press to be similarly obsessed with this change in footwear preference, with many sightings of VB in various different pairs of trainers over the last year. The ex-Spice Girl appears to have come to the conclusion that comfort, especially when spending long hours working or travelling, is everything.

We’re with her on this and it appears plenty of others are too – The Telegraph reported in September 2016 that for the first time, sales of trainers have overtaken sales of high heeled shoes.

Your Feet are Incredible

Your feet are incredible: they have 52 bones, 66 joints and over 200 muscles, tendons and ligaments and they support your skeleton and provide balance and mobility, every day. And yet you might spend lots of time and money on wearing shoes which cause pain and injury to them.

Wearing High Heels

Wearing high heels changes your posture – your chest and lower back are pushed forward, taking your spine out of alignment. Excess pressure is placed on your knees and on the balls of your feet. The higher the heel, the greater the excess pressure and the pain inflicted.

Long term wearing of heels can cause issues with:

  • Feet: bunions, corns and callouses and Plantar Fasciitis, a nasty pain in the heel which can take months to cure
  • Knees: knee pain and potentially knee osteoarthritis
  • Legs: shortened calf muscles which makes placing the feet flat on the floor painful

Wearing high heels also shifts your centre of gravity upwards, making you less stable and more prone to falls, trips or twisting your ankles.

There’s a really interesting infogram on the Spine Health Institute’s website showing how high heels affect your body.

Wearing Flat Shoes

Wearing correctly fitted flat shoes keeps your spine in a fairly neutral position with much less pressure placed on the knees – your calf muscles are relaxed when your feet are flat and your weight is distributed evenly across the soles of your feet. Much more comfortable!

It’s great to see the relaxation of dress codes meaning that the wearing of comfortable footwear is becoming more acceptable and more widespread.

We say: everything in moderation!

  1. Wear your heels for a night out, but wear lower heeled supportive and cushioned shoes, such as correctly fitted trainers, when you’re on your feet a lot, during commutes and whilst exercising.
  2. If you do wear heels, choose lower heel heights to reduce pressure on feet, knees and hips, and with wider heels to give more stability and reduce risk of slips, trips and falls.
  3. Avoid spending long hours on your feet in flip flops or trainers, such as Converse and other ‘plimsoll’ type shoes which have minimal cushioning and support, even if they look good.

Sarah Lawson

Sarah had wanted to be a physiotherapist from the age of 15, and she realised her dream after qualifying in 1992. She went on to gain a postgraduate qualification in Sport Medicine in 1997, and later became the Outpatient and Sports Injury Manager at the Wellington Hospital. 

When she found herself spending more time on paperwork than patients (her clinic at the Wellington was owned by an American corporation), she went into private practice – first helping a small physio clinic get back on its feet, and then setting up Physio Remedies in 2005. 

Physio Remedies has come on a long way since its inception (which consisted of just Sarah on her own, in a converted broom cupboard at the Lansdowne Club): with top physios from around the country, state-of-the-art facilities, and relationships with renowned surgeons and sports organisations, it’s one of the most highly regarded physio practices in the country.