News & Blogs
March 16 2021

Heavy Purses and High Heels: 10 Reasons Why They're Unhealthy

Did you know that high-heeled shoes were first worn by men?
High-heeled shoes or "heels," as they are commonly called today, were worn by Persian soldiers to give them stability when shooting bows and arrows and help their feet remain in the stirrups while riding horses. Since then, heels have turned into cultural symbolisms: wealth and power, refined fashion, sophistication, and sexuality.
Wearing stylish heels with matching luxurious bags has long become an expression of style and a fashion statement that completes one's look at the expense of comfort. Fashionable handbags are convenient to lug around, carrying all the stuff one can need, but an overstuffed purse can cause back and neck pain in the long run.
Meanwhile, heels can give women a boost of confidence and elevate their fashion sense, but heeled feet for long periods can lead to aching joints and strained muscles.

10 Reasons Why High Heels and Heavy Purses Can Be Harmful to Your Health

These things may be fashionable, but at what cost? Here are some of the adverse effects of wearing heels and carrying heavy bags.

1. Bad for the body's posture

Wearing heels puts the feet in an extended downward position, which increases the pressure on the forefoot. This increases the pressure when walking or standing forces the entire body to adjust and counter the shift in balance, throws off its alignment, and creates an unnatural posture instead of a natural, relaxed stance.

2. Changes gait

When walking, the foot rolls from the heel to the forefront, pushing off the ground with the toes. Walking in high heels—which places the foot at an unnatural position—keeps an individual from doing normal strides by preventing the foot from pushing off the ground naturally and efficiently.
The higher the heels are, the harder the hip flexor muscles work to hold the body forward and the knees to remain more flexed.

3. Unnatural foot position

When wearing high heels, the feet are in an awkward position, making it almost appear like standing on one's toes. This, again, puts significant weight on the forefoot, which can cause several conditions, such as the following:
●       Bunions and neuromas: These deformities and growths cause pain in the foot.
●       Haglund's deformity: Also called a pump bump, this deformity causes a bony enlargement that appears at the back of the heel bone.
●       Plantar fasciitis: Pain at the bottom of the foot or near the heel caused by wearing unsupportive footwear.

4. Throws off one's balance

Unlike wearing flat shoes where the body's weight is evenly distributed throughout the foot, heeled feet require great balance when walking on uneven surfaces, slopes, or elevated ground. Big and quick strides put more pressure on the balls of the feet to maintain stability.
Wearing high heels, especially stilettos (stick-like high heels), will practically feel like walking on tiptoes. This increases the risk of stumbling, twisting the ankle, or falling.

5. Sprains the ankle

High heels increase the risk of getting an ankle sprain. When wearing heels, the person rolls onto the outside of the foot, stretching the ligaments beyond their normal capacity. This unusual movement can tear those ligaments, causing pinched nerves and severe pain.

6. Causes shoulder pain

Humans are a creature of habit. They usually carry a tote or purse on one side of the body, but this brings an imbalance in the posture if the bag is heavy. This means all the pressure of the cumbersome bag is focused on either the left or right shoulder. This undistributed weight can severely strain the shoulder and part of the neck and back.

7. Postural misalignment

Carrying heavy bags for extended periods of time can lead to soft tissue injuries, muscle pain, and spine problems in the future. Since the weight is rested only on one side of the body, it can cause some muscles to work too hard. And when the other muscles do not work enough, the spine may curve, or it may lead to an asymmetrical spine.

8. Uneven weight distribution

Research shows that a bag's weight should not exceed 10% of the person's body weight. If an individual weighs 150 pounds, the bag should not weigh more than 15 pounds. An imbalance causes some muscles to respond to the changes and compromise them, which, in turn, puts a strain on specific parts of the body.

9, Tension on the neck and back

When one carries a heavy bag on one shoulder, the person tends to lift the shoulder and lean to the other side or move their neck away from the load to balance the bag's weight to prevent it from sliding off. As a result, the upper back and neck muscles stretch and weaken. At some point, one will develop back and neck pain.

10. Possibility to develop arthritis

Constantly carrying a heavy load on the shoulder presses muscles and nerves in the neck down to the shoulder, causing severe strain that may lead to bad posture with a curved shoulder or back.
When the muscles get fatigued, it tends to lose grip of the spine. The person may then walk unnaturally and feel discomfort with every stride as it puts undistributed weight into specific areas in the body. Over time, one may also develop osteoarthritis, the most common type caused by wear-and-tear damage to the cartilage.

Choose Comfort Over Style

While some people are required to wear heels for their job, some choose to wear fashionable heels and carry overstuffed bags to make them confident about how they look as they have everything they need in one tote. But they will come to a point when it is better to prioritize health and comfort over fashion.
If you have concerns about muscles or joint pains, do not hesitate to reach out to Makati Medical Center’s orthopedic department for the diagnosis, management, or treatment of aches and pains related to the muscles and joints.