While I am a die-hard high heel lover, I take care to use my understanding of the mechanics behind Human walk and the engineering behind good shoes.
Let me share some of this stuff with your in a series of posts. I will make it as jargon free as possible.
This one is on the weight distribution in the foot and high heel wear. The next one will be on walking.
All our body weight is held by our feet and when we stand and walk, it comes concentrated at the ankle joint. Consider it like a rod constantly pressing this point from above with over 50 kg load, about 4-5 thousand times a day for many years.
|foot's weight distribution changes|
with high heel shoes
|pressure points on foot|
Nature has devised a way so that the pressure does not crush the tissues and bones below the joint and still we have sufficient flexibility to walk. So, this pressure is distributed to the entire foot through a complex chain of bones. In normal standing, about half of the weight goes to the heel while the rest half goes to the balls behind the toes. An arch, with lining of tough ligaments etc helps further in this distribution..
Look at the second figure. It shows the points where the pressure is the highest when we stand. When we wear high heeled shoes, the weight distribution goes awry. About 90% of the pressure now is directed towards the balls while heels bear 10%. Our feet are not made to bear this huge pressure at the small joints that transfer the weight from the ankle joint and the balls. The joint itself bears the load in an unnatural way, leading to unusual wear and tear if we do not take care to walk properly.
heel deforms alignment of bones surrounding the archand at ankle joints
The distortion in the anatomy and load distribution increases with the height of the heel, and is also influenced by many factors such as body weight, make of the foot and shoe design.
The simple takeaways from this knowledge are-
We should not keep standing in high heels for a long time, even if we do not feel immediate pain and fatigue;
We should do simple exercises of ankle and toes, and massage the feet, after long high heel wear;
If there is a congenital deformity in the feet / legs / back, or there has been some injury in these parts, we should consider that before going for high heels, especially more than about 2 inches; and
Ladies with bulky build should avoid too high heeled shoes.
I posted this general post earlier on care of feet while wearing high heeled shoes.