Hang up the Manolo’s

Posted on November 12, 2010

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Published in SME Advisor – Nov 10

Dubai is full of smart, accomplished woman who are pictures of chic, elegance and authority. And when it comes to looking stylish, glamorous and powerful, nothing beats a pair of high heels. They work wonders for our figures, altering our posture, flexing the calf muscles, tucking in the tummy and lifting the bottom nevermind the positive affects on our confidence and ego. But at what price?

High heels were not designed for comfort nor are they remotely practical for a day in the office.  The steps made in a working day really add up when you factor in walking to and from the car, attending meetings, lunch and coffee dates not to mention trips to and from the water cooler to combat the dry air caused by air con.

As a result, women are causing extensive damage not just to their feet but also to their body as a whole.  We worry about the ergonomics of office seating and computer keyboards for good reason; small stresses can often compound into major problems.

Below are just a few of high heels’ effects on the body;

  • Knees – the altered posture when walking in heels places excessive force on the knee which in time can cause osteoarthritis
  • Posture – heels push the centre of mass in the body forward which takes the spine and hips out of alignment
  • Pressure – pressure on the forefoot increases with heels; by 22% in a one-inch heel, 57% in a two-inch heel and 76% in a three-inch heel
  • Calves – calf muscles adjust to the angle of heels causing muscles to shorten and tighten
  • Bunions – heels often cause these bony growths at the base of the big toe which forces it to angle in towards the others
  • Ankle Injuries – high heels impair balance giving the wearer a greater risk of falling or spraining their ankle

But if you decide your Choos’ are definitely here to stay, at least follow some strategies to make them more comfortable and your days wearing them more manageable. Here are my top tips:

  • Buy the right size

Just because you love the shoe and you find one pair left half price at Dubai Outlet Mall does not mean you should buy them.  They may look gorgeous but they will only cause you pain and suffering and in turn reduce your productivity in the work place. More so in Dubai, where the summer swelter causes feet to swell.

  • Stick to round toes

Pointy shoes push the toe inward causing joint pain, crunched toes and bunions. Round toes allow your feet to lie flat.

  • Don’t go too high

If you love the look of heels, opt instead for a mid / kitten heel, which are about ½ inch to 1 inch.  They still give you that leg mignon without the damage of something taller.

  • Go natural

When in the comfort of your own home, go barefoot as much as possible to allow your feet to recover their natural style and arch.

  • Alternate shot styles

To avoid your toes always being crunched the same way, try and alternate between round-toes and pointy ones, stilettos and platforms, wedges and kittens and so on.

  • Soften the sole

Wear soft insoles to reduce the impact on your knees and make sure your shoes are a snug fit so that your foot doesn’t slide forward, putting even more pressure on the toes.

  • Pump it up

Get into the habit of keeping a pair of flip-flops or ballet pumps in your handbag. Once at your desk, there’s no reason why you can’t pop on a pair of pumps … there are plenty of gorgeous ballet pumps out there to not have to compromise on style or finesse.

  • Stretch it out

A few stretching exercises throughout the day will work wonders to counteract the damage caused by heels.  Stand on tiptoes on a step, and using a handrail for balance, lower the heels as low as they can before raising them again. Whilst sitting at your desk, rotate your feet in opposite directions and bend and extend them. A warm bath or a light massage to your feet and calves will also help recovery after a long day in the highest of heels!

Dubai’s obsession with killer heels shows no signs of weakening.  Indeed, Christian Laboutin has just brought some sole to our shores with the opening of his first store in MoE. But follow the advice above and there’s no need to hang up the Manolos’ just yet. Afterall, beauty is pain and Dubai’s corporate executives will go to any length to succeed in both the corporate and style stakes.

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