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Those To-Die-For High Heels May Alter Anatomy
Date:7/17/2010

e industry understand how women can be slaves to fashion but not suffer so much physical discomfort."

It's not a big leap to know that shoes that hurt can't be good for you, Youner said. For example:

  • High heels put stress on the back and knees. Squeezing into high heels with narrow toe boxes can cause a condition called Morton's neuroma, a painful thickening of tissue between the third and fourth toes.
  • Haglund's deformity, sometimes called the "pump bump," occurs when back straps of heels dig into the tissue around the Achilles tendon. Too-tight shoes can bring on bunions, an enlargement of bone or tissue at the base of the big toe that pushes the big toe toward the second toe.
  • Pointy shoes can worsen hammertoe by forcing the toes to bend at the middle joints, eventually causing them to stay bent and rigid even when barefoot.
  • And then there are those uneven-sidewalk wipeouts that lead to ankle sprains and breaks.

The fix for many of these conditions, podiatrists said, may come as bad news for those emulating "Sex and the City" fashionista Carrie Bradshaw: Box up your stilettos, take over-the-counter anti-inflammatories if necessary, and wear more sensible footwear.

"I tell a lot of women to put on sneakers and take Aleve," Youner said. "A heel will make a woman's butt stick out and makes the body look taller, thinner. Society pushes us to look a certain way, and all women want to look attractive. In reality, it can be crippling, and it is literally changing the shape of the body."

And don't think those now ubiquitous flip-flops are your solution. Flip-flops offer no arch support or shock absorption, and the toes have to scrunch with every step to keep the foot from slipping, experts said.

"I have recently seen some lovely flip-flops injuries," Youner said. "Flip flops are meant for the beach, not for walking on cement or on vacation or at an amusement park. If you wear them, you are treati
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