How to Have the Happiest Feet on the Block

Look closely at these two pictures. Something doesn’t belong! What is it??

Model wearing high heel shoe A dog in a high heeled shoe

If your answer was, “A heeled shoe,” then you’re absolutely right!
Humans, unlike any other mammal, were created to walk upright exclusively. Our calcaneus, or heel bone, was made to touch the ground and bear weight during normal standing and walking.
An animal’s foot is shaped so that their largest weight-bearing bones are the metatarsals (a.k.a. the ball of the foot), unlike humans who have a large heel bone. It’s as if they are walking up on their tiptoes all the time, which is perfect for their function of being on all fours.
Dogs, for instance, have a much smaller calcaneus compared to their body and much longer metatarsals (a.k.a. the ball of the foot) which were made to bear weight in a completely different way than humans.
Heeled shoes put a human’s foot into a quadruped (all-fours) animal position. If we consider that we were created in the image of God, to bring glory to our Maker, wearing something that would make us more animalistic would not bring glory to God’s image. It could even be considered renouncing our heritage.
We are children of God, made in His image, to the glory of our Father. Even if wearing heels “once in awhile” won’t make much difference physically, it DOES give testament to who we are following. Are we children of God, or children of the world (fashion)?
But there are also physical repercussions to altering our form from the way we were designed. Biomechanically, even a small heel height (a.k.a. a “sensible” heel) can make huge impacts on the body. The human body masks this, however, through a series of muscle, tendon, ligament, and joint compensations that affect the function of the entire body.

Check out this video segment from The Science of Happy Feet course showing just how much wearing heels impacts your body.

What are the results of walking this way?

Short-term: sore muscles, minor foot and back pain.
Long-term: wear-and-tear on entire body systems, poor posture which can ultimately lead to bone loss, pelvic floor issues, worn joints, and pain in multiple areas including the all-important spine. Not to mention blood and lymph flow changes in the legs and feet that can affect the whole body.

To try…

Calf stretch to help lengthen the back-of-the-leg muscles into a balanced position for happy feet.
  • Place the ball of your foot on top of a rolled up towel or foam roller
  • The outer edge of your foot should be straight and knees straight but with kneecaps relaxed and loose
  • Only step as far forward with the non-stretching leg as you can while still maintaining balance and alignment

Calf stretch on 1/2 foam roller for foot health

Hold for 1 minute. Do this stretch at least 3 times on each leg per day (more if you’re a heel-wearer or chair-sitter)

Challenge

Look through your closet and find heel-less shoes. Be picky. Any heel height counts against you. If you’re not used to wearing flat shoes or going barefoot, lower your heel height in increments to lessen potential foot pain.
Uh-oh! Didn’t have many shoes left that passed the test? Stay tuned for healthy footwear options in the next post.
Check out some healthy shoe suggestions in Part 2

Whose footsteps are you walking in?


•Bowman K. Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet. Dallas, BenBella Books, 2011.
•Levangie PK, Norkin CC: Joint Structure and Function: A Comprehensive Analysis. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, F.A. Davis Company, 2001.
•Sherrington C, Menz HB: An evaluation of footwear worn at the time of fall-related hip fracture. Age and Aging. 2003; 32: 310–314.

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