Swapping heels for flats could damage your calves

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  • Changing from high heels to flats after work could severely damage our calf muscles.

    We may think we’re being incredibly sensible changing from heels to flats after work, but scientists claim women who spend most of their time tottering around in stilettos will cause painful muscle damage.

    According to research, walking in heels causes calf muscles to shorten by about 13% over time, and when we change from heels to flats, the muscles are stretched in to a position they are not used to causing pain and discomfort.

    Professor Marco Narici who led the research at Manchester Metropolitan University suggests ‘Women who wear heels fairly regularly will see a chronic effect on their calf muscles.’

    ‘They will become progressively shorter and will find it very difficult to stretch out again once these shoes are taken off and the woman tries to walk around normally,’ he added.

    High heels effectively cause the wearer to walk on tiptoes, reducing the distance between the ankle and the back of the knee, forcing the calves to contract.

    Researchers found that even women who wear relatively low 2inch heels can suffer from long-term muscle damage.

    ‘Often it will be very uncomfortable for a woman to wear trainers or even walk in bare feet.’

    But all is not lost. Researchers advise heel wearers that regular practice stretching exercises after removing the high heeled shoes can prevent calf muscles from shortening.

    One recommendation involves placing one foot on a step and the other foot on the step above and moving the heels up and down to stretch out the calf muscles. If repeated several times after taking shoes off, women should feel less discomfort when changing in to flats.


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