There are very few topics that could be tagged Fashion, Health, and Politics, but today’s post will focus on one of them. I have very few positive things to say about our provincial government, but I do commend them for one recent decision. On January 1, 2019, changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Code will take effect banning mandatory footwear rules that pose health and safety risks to Alberta workers, particularly those in the hospitality industry.
“Mandatory high heel policies that can put workers at risks for slips, trips and falls and can become a workplace hazard are no longer acceptable,” Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray announced recently. “We’re doing this after hearing from so many Albertans and workers who have had detrimental effects to having to work an eight-hour shift in high heels.” The new ruling isn’t about banning high heels; it’s about giving women the choice of whether to wear them or not.
Since I’m significantly taller than my husband and I’ve always put comfort ahead of appearance, I seldom wear anything higher than a kitten heel. After reading about the toll that wearing high heels regularly can have on the spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet, I’m glad that I never got into the habit. Take a look at this graphic from the Florida Hospital Medical Group Spine Health Institute to see what I’m referring to.
Looking at the two profiles, it’s easy to see why men in particular tend to favour women in high heels, but is the increase in sex appeal worth the damage that they cause?
Studies have shown that by limiting the natural motion of the foot during walking, high heels can cause increased stress on the knees and may even contribute to osteoarthritis later in life. Similarly, if high heels are worn constantly, the spine’s ability to absorb shock can result in continued back pain. The vertebrae of the lower back may be compressed and back muscles over stressed. Wearing high heels too frequently can also cause the calf muscle to stiffen and the Achilles tendon to shorten which can actually make wearing flatter shoes uncomfortable. By putting a great deal of pressure on the ball of the foot and forcing the toes into a small toe box, high heels can cause or worsen many foot problems including corns, hammertoe, bunions, Morton’s neuroma and plantar fasciitis.
Does all this mean that women should never wear high heels? Not at all. Worn in moderation, for special occasions as opposed to every day, they are unlikely to cause any long-term physical health problems. So wear them to your upcoming Christmas parties if you like, just don’t wear them to work every day. On the other hand, there are so many cute flats available these days that you might not want to wear them at all!