High heels: Friend or foe

By Laura Grandt

Four-inch stilettos may be good for manufacturer’s pocketbooks, but that doesn’t mean high heels are good for the body – or are they?

A new study published by British researchers in the October 2003 Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health said there may be a link between reduced risk of osteoarthritis in the knees and high-heeled shoes.

The study found a possible link for women between being overweight early in life and arthritis of the knee. Other factors, such as smoking, may contribute as well.

Katie Parry, a senior deaf education major, was diagnosed with arthritis in both knees six years ago. She said she feels pain in her knees when wearing high-heeled shoes.

Parry said the pain sometimes comes to the point where she has to take the shoes off, but she still wears them about every other weekend for church, parties and professional gatherings.

“I feel it looks a little bit more professional than flat shoes,” Parry said.

Dr. Photine Liakos, an orthopedic surgeon with the Midwest Orthopedic and Neurosurgery Specialists, 2111 Midlands Court, Sycamore, said the findings of reduced risk of knee arthritis associated with high heels surprised her, and that more research probably is needed.

Liakos said there are adverse effects of high-heeled shoes, nonetheless.

Tightness in the tendon caused by high-heeled shoes can lead to pain in the heel, which is known as Heel Spur Syndrome. Bunions and Hammertoe also may be associated with high heels, she said.

Liakos said pointed-toe shoes are especially bad for the feet.

“It’s kind of like you have your toe on a ramp and it pushes your toe into the shoe,” Liakos said.

Onreesha Ammons, a senior criminology major, said she knows high heels are bad for the body, thanks to a class she took recently. However, she still chooses to wear them for fashion purposes.

She did reduce her wear from about twice a week to once a week after she found out about the effects.

Ammons said she also was surprised at the results of the study.

“That’s different, because every time you hear about high-heeled shoes, they’re trying to tell you how bad [they are] on your feet or legs,” Ammons said.