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High Heels and the Achilles Tendon

How does wearing high heels affect your feet and legs?
Wearing high heels a lot keeps the lower leg in a €œshortened€ position (shortened position being when a muscle, ligament or tendon is not required to stretch) will reduce the length of the attached muscle (tendon or ligament).
Research has shown that the regular wear of high heels has a negative effect on the body€™s biomechanics. Let€™s look here at how shortening these muscles, tendons and ligaments can afftect your feet and legs.
One area that is guaranteed to be affected by regular use of sky scraping heels is the Achilles tendon.
The Achilles Tendon
Located above the heel at the back of your ankle, the Achilles is a strong fibrous cord-like tendon, connecting the calf muscles to the calcaneus (heel bone).

How it works: Contraction of the three calf muscles will pass through the Achilles resulting in downward (plantarflexion) movement of the foot at the ankle joint €“ necessary for walking, running and jumping.
How high heels affect the tendon: High heel shoes raise our heel bone off the ground, reducing the stretch required of the calf muscle and subsequently the contraction of the Achilles tendon. Over time the Achilles tendon will shorten.
The Achilles tendon stabilises the ankle joint and maintains balance whilst walking, running and jumping. Habitual wearing of high heels will create a shorter, thicker and non-flexible Achilles, often leading to inflammation, tears or ruptures of the tendon and most certainly to a significant abnormality in an individual€™s gait (walking) cycle. Those who wear high heels a great deal often report that they cannot eventually walk barefoot or wear low heeled shoes,as their Achilles has shortened so much.
What can you do to avoid shortening the Achilles?
1. Alternating heel height throughout the week €“ for those who are required to wear such footwear in their work place, and avoiding long hours of weight bearing in heels out with work will prevent shortening of the Achilles.
2. Wear sports shoes to/from work and other events and change into your high heels.
3. Wear appropriate footwear for the activity €“ sports shoes for a lot of walking (such as around the mall).
4. See a podiatrist if you are experiencing any Achilles discomfort, for advice about footwear or full biomechanical assessment and therapies to help you walk, run and move easier!
Contact the UAE€™s foot and leg experts (we are the Middle East€™s only providers of genuine custom made prescription orthotics with UK trained and qualified Podiatrists) on +971 4 3435390.


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