Swapping heels for flats damages calf muscles
Wearing heels regularly can make calf muscles 13 percent shorter. Women who spend most of their time tottering around in high heels might suffer from muscle damage, which makes it uncomfortable to walk in flat shoes, scientists claim.
It is a familiar sight in the streets and alleys around office blocks — women slipping out of their stilettos and into their pumps or trainers for the walk home.
But they might be better off if they don't change their shoes at all, according to research. Women who spend most of their time tottering around in high heels might suffer from muscle damage, which makes it uncomfortable to walk in flat shoes, scientists claim.
This is because, over time, walking in heels causes calf muscles to become shorter and weaker. When the wearer switches to flats, the muscles are suddenly stretched into a position they are not used to, causing pain and discomfort. Shortening effect.
Scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University found that women who wear heels five days a week over two years can shrink their calf muscles by up to 13 percent. They say this shortening effect can be permanent and the only way to prevent it is by doing stretching exercises at the end of the day.
The researchers found that even women who wear relatively low two-inch heels can suffer from long-term muscle damage. High heels effectively cause the wearer to walk on tiptoe, reducing the distance between their ankles and the backs of their knees. To compensate, the calf muscles contract — and will usually stretch out again once the heels are taken off. But if high shoes are worn for most of the day, for weeks on end, the muscles can shrink permanently and become weaker.
The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, involved women who had worn heels at least two inches high on a regular basis during the previous two years. I t found that their calf muscles were, on average, 13 percent shorter than those who stick to flats.
Professor Marco Narici, who led the research, said: "Women who wear heels fairly regularly will see a chronic effect on their calf muscles. They will become progressively shorter and will find it difficult to stretch out again once these shoes are taken off and the woman tries to walk around normally.But the researchers said regular stretching exercises after removing the shoes could prevent calf muscles from shortening.
One recommendation involves placing the right foot on a step and the left foot on the next step up. The right foot should be moved so that the heel hangs off the step and lowered until the calf muscle feels stretched. This should be repeated several times on each side.
SOURCE: Gulf News News Dept