Oct 3, 2008

Lifestyle - High heels bad for health & wealth

Venkata Vemuri
High heels eventually leave women down at the heel, a new study says.
Spindly stilettos and towering wedges walk you ultimately to the podiatrist's parade of bunions, corns, bent toes, trapped nerves and disfigured feet.
Those who foot the bill annually in Britain alone add up to a few thousands, but the bills they foot are a bit high. Around 29 million pounds.
And mind you, free treatment through the National Health Service (NHS) means a lengthy waiting period. Private clinics are the only alternative for the impatient.
A study by shoe brand MBT claims nearly one in three foot operations on women are to straighten toes disfigured by ill-fitting shoes, mostly high heels.
The cost of each such non-NHS procedure is about 1,200 pounds.
If all patients opted for private treatment, these operations would cost a total of 10.4 million pounds a year.
One in five feet operations are to remove bunions, which is a structural deformity of the bones and the joint between the foot and big toe.
Based on the average cost of private treatment of about 4,000 pounds, this equates to 10.5 million pounds a year.
A further 3.3 million pounds a year would be spent on big toe joint replacement, 2.9 million pounds on operations for corns, 2 million pounds to remove trapped nerves, and 200,000 pounds to correct in-growing toe-nails, the study says.
Cosmetic surgery is also increasing in popularity with treatments including "plumping" in which a dermal filler is injected into the ball of the foot to make walking more comfortable.
The survey of 1,000 women aged 15 and above found those in Liverpool and Manchester were most likely to end up with foot injuries.
Nearly half of all women in the North-West of Britain said they wore high heels five days or more a week.
Forty-three percent of those in the South-East also chose heels five days a week.
Four in ten reported having an accident in their heels, with twisted ankles and tripping over the most common mishaps.
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists explains that because stilettos force the wearer to raise their heel, the lower back bends to compensate.
This puts pressure on nerves in the back and can cause sciatica. Another common problem is damage to the Achilles tendon.
Sticking to heels no higher than one and a half inches can help, the study advises.
Foot expert Emma Supple told Daily Mail: "We need to mix and match our choice of footwear to allow our bodies time to recover. Heaven forbid that we ban heels from our wardrobes but we want to balance out our heel wearing days, protect our bodies from future damage and avoid injuries."

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