“I don't know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot,” said Marilyn Monroe.
While the inventor of the high heel remains in question – the shoe is said to date back to ancient Egypt – our debt of gratitude may not be as high as Marilyn estimated.
“Both short-term and long-term, high heels can cause some problems,” said Dr. Samuel Ruggiero, a podiatrist at Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus, who appeared last week on the CW-23’s the Winging It! TV show.
Doctors of podiatric medicine blame high heels for postural and even safety problems, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association.
“From the lower back down are a series of joints and ligaments that fire together. Throw off or alter one joint, and you throw off any or all of those parts,” says Dr. Ruggiero.
While Dr. Ruggerio doesn’t expect that women are going to give up their heels, he recommends a compromise instead: limit your time wearing them whenever possible.
“When I was going to school in New York City, a lot of times the secretaries and career women were going to and from their offices in nice sneakers. That’s a nice compromise. It’s the people who wear high heeled shoes all the time that we’re seeing problems in,” he said.
If you’re thinking of forgoing the heel altogether and wearing flats instead, be aware that ballet flats don’t provide arch support, which can cause a number of problems, including bunions, hammertoes, and heel spurs, all of which can require surgery to correct.
If you love the look of ballet flats, consider buying over-the-counter inserts to provide extra cushioning.
Although high heels and ballet flats cause their share of problems, Dr. Ruggiero cites flip flops as the worst of all.
“Those are possibly the worst shoes ever created because they expose your feet to injury. Just last summer, my daughter was at a party and a thunderstorm broke out. She ran in flip flops and knocked one of her toenails off.”
In addition to making us vulnerable to injury, flip-flops don’t provide any arch support. As a compromise, Dr. Ruggiero recommends wearing arched sandals instead.
To view Dr. Ruggiero's appearance on Winging It!, click on the video below: