Skinny jeans and high heeled shoes are an essential item of clothing for many. Who would have thought that in addition to the many aspects of 21 century living that are bad for us, skinny jeans and high heels would join the list?
On 23 June 2015, the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry reported that a 35 year old woman was hospitalised after collapsing due to muscle damage, swelling and nerve blockage caused by her skinny jeans. The woman had been helping a family member move house and had spent many hours squatting while emptying cupboards. The woman explained that her jeans had felt increasingly tight and uncomfortable during the day. Whilst walking home her feet were numb, she fell over and spent several hours lying on the ground before she was found. Her jeans could only be removed by cutting them off .The woman spent four days in hospital unable to walk but she later recovered.
According to Dr. Thomas Kimber of the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia, skinny jeans have been known to have caused lesions to thigh nerves, but this was the first time that they saw nerve problems in the lower leg and severe muscle damage. It is believed that the squatting, aided by the tight material, compressed the nerves in the lower leg, reducing the blood supply to the calf muscles.
Compartment syndrome occurs as a result of excessive pressure within an enclosed space of the body. When the muscles bleed and become swollen they interfere with the nerves and blood vessels. This impedes the flow of blood resulting in acute pain, loss of body function and in very extreme cases, even death. Compartment syndrome may be caused by traumatic injury, bone fracture, by severe bruising, by a tight plaster cast or bandage. In the case of the Australian woman, it was probably caused by the prolonged squatting, exacerbated by the tight jeans disturbing the blood circulating.
Many people all over the world wear skinny jeans and most of them get home in one piece. The problem raised by this case is a real one however, so if you'll be immobile in a single position for an extended period of time such as in a long haul flight, wear looser clothing. Alternatively get up and stretch your legs often.
Much as skinny jeans, high heeled shoes are another fashion accessory which doesn't give our body an easy ride. When we wear flat shoes our spine is straight, the calf muscles are relaxed and the body weight is evenly distributed throughout the foot. High heels however impairs our natural balance causing:-
Wearing high heels stops your foot from naturally rotating as you walk forcing them into a straight and unbending position. This causes the knee to absorb the brunt of every step, which can lead to severe joint pain and an exacerbation of arthritic symptoms.
Unnatural pressure on the ball of your foot
In heels you are standing on a ramp with your entire weight placed on the ball of your foot causing damage to the natural padding of your foot, delicate bones and nerves. The higher the heel, the bigger the impact.
Shortened calf muscles
Walking in heels stiffens and shortens your Achilles tendons which can causes you trouble walking naturally even after you kick off your shoes.
Your knee is the largest joint in your body. Frequent high-heel use can put extra stress on the inner sides of the knees, causing unnecessary wear and tear that could lead to osteoarthritis.
Standing in heels actually cause your pelvis to push forward when you walk or stand, placing tremendous pressure on the lower back and causing lingering pain.
Ingrown toenails, corns, bunions, hammertoe
When wearing high heels your feet can slide down putting pressure on your toes, leading to ingrown toenails, corns and bunions – all come from your toes rubbing or being pushed into particular positions.
Falls and sprains
Due to the imbalance between the heel and the ball of the foot, your ankle is forced to become the pivot for your entire body. And, since ankles aren’t built to take that kind of pressure, falls and twisted or sprained ankles can be pretty common.
In this condition the nerve running between the toes is disturbed because of a build-up of fibrous tissue. This causes irritation and severe pain to the ball of the foot and base of the toe. High heels have been blamed as the main cause especially as there has been a 115% rise with women aged between 40 and 69 seeking treatment for the condition. Treatment in extreme cases is surgery to cut or remove the nerve resulting in no feeling in the affected area.
We all want to look good, it gives us confidence and in some cases may also boost our career. However, we must strike a balance between looking good and being uncomfortable or in pain or even risking our wellbeing because we want to look good. Don’t become a victim of fashion.