High heels – friend or foe? Does wearing high heels day in and day out increase the risk of forming varicose veins?
Wearing high heels contributes to poor posture and can cause not only ankle pain in some people, but also joint pain in your neck and back.
Because a rich network of veins exists in your foot wearing high heels can also negatively affect your “foot pump”. We currently know that people with flat feet have an increased risk of developing varicose veins and so it is likely that added pressure on your feet is also likely to contribute to varicose vein disease. So if you have the other contributing risk factors for varicose veins than you may want to consider how often you are wearing those six-inch stilettos!
Why does wearing high heels cause varicose veins?
Wearing high heels minimizes the full range of motion of the foot and ankle when walking. Normally when you walk with a full range of motion (i.e. wearing flats) your calf muscle contracts and shoots the blood up through your veins towards the heart and lungs.
However, when you wear high heels, this movement is restricted as you are standing on your toes which keep the calf muscle contracted. As a result, your calf muscle does not pump the blood back through your veins as it should. This lost efficiency can cause the pooling of venous blood in the leg.
If you already have visible signs of varicose veins or other risk factors, then we highly recommend that you consider taking a break from your Jimmy Choos and grabbing a cute pair of flats instead.
What are the contributing risk factors for varicose veins?
Other than wearing your heels too often the other risk factors which can lead to (opens in a new tab) include;
- Genetics. Unfortunately, if both of your parents have varicose veins, there is a 70% chance of you inheriting venous disease
- Gender.Women tend to be more at risk of developing varicose veins
- Pregnancy.Hormonal changes, pressure from the uterus, and increased blood volume make varicose veins common during pregnancy.
- Job:Working in a job that requires you to stand for long periods of time
- Obesity.If you are overweight additional pressure is placed on the venous system
If you are worried about your varicose veins, we recommend that you see a vein specialist and have a vein assessment completed.