Thursday, September 2, 2010

Women Step Into The Comfort Zone As High Heels Topple From Grace

By: Matthew Sims

ARE high heels about to topple out of favour as a footwear favourite?

The popularity of comfort shoes is growing as women spend more and more of their time on their feet � at work and at home.

Coupled with some headline-grabbing setbacks for towering slingbacks, it means that the popularity of high heels is on the wobble � quite literally.

In the current economic climate, where a record number of women are working, there has been a reported increase in demand for shoes that are both comfortable and fashionable.

The clamour is for footwear which, unlike high heels, is kind on your feet � as well as your wallet.

Rising online and High Street sales have coincided with a new study that has revealed that as many as four in every ten women have had accidents in high heels.

Even catwalk models, who are paid huge amounts to make walking in heels look easy, are having trouble staying upright. Three fell from their lofty slingbacks at the Prada show in Milan recently, and those who managed to stay upright teetered and tottered their way along the catwalk like newborn foals.

Perhaps they should enroll in the stiletto class recently launched by a New York gym. For health and safety reasons, they can only teach walking and dancing in heels for 15 minutes at a time (which tells you a lot about the problems of high heels), while the rest of the class focuses on strengthening the legs and calves to make walking in heels easier.

For the average working woman, this is not an option. It is style, comfort and value for money which form the winning formula for shoe buying this season

The study also revealed that every year thousands of women need operations as they find themselves not being able to walk properly after years of stiletto abuse!

Surgery as a result of ill-fitting shoes is currently running at a toe-curling £30m a year.

Common operations like bunion and corn removal, which can each cost £4,000, add up to £13.8m a year. For well-known bunion sufferers like Victoria Beckham and Naomi Campbell, the cost is hardly going to break the bank balance. But for many women, it is a depressing expense which they clearly wished they could have avoided.

More complex surgery like toe straightening, which costs around £1,200 per operation, adds up to £10.4m in a year. A further £3.3m a year is spent on big toe joint replacement, £2m removing trapped nerves, and £200,000 correcting ingrowing toenails, the study says.

Medical experts behind the study said that wearing high heels for prolonged periods is bad for women's health. They urged women to mix and match footwear to enable their bodies time to recover from the damage caused by high heels.

Private cosmetic surgery on feet is also on the increase, with treatments including “plumping” the ball of the foot with a dermal filler to give more cushioning.

The growing problems associated with high heels has led to the TUC (Trades Union Congress) demanding that employers drop ‘inappropriate’ requirements for workers to wear uncomfortable or dangerous footwear.

A new TUC guide Working feet and footwear found that while many employers allow employees to wear healthy and safe footwear, a number of big city institutions and upmarket shops insist female staff who deal with the public wear high heels as part of a dress code.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber confessed that he was shocked at how many times employers’ dress codes did not permit the wearing of comfortable sensible footwear by women.

He said: “Heels may look glamorous on the catwalks and on Hollywood stars, but they’re not appropriate for day-to-day work wear. These dress codes can lead to long-term foot and back problems as women are forced to stand or walk around in high heels or ill-fitting footwear.

‘Feet bear the brunt of the daily working life and instead of worrying about what their staff look like, employers should focus on the effect that the wrong shoes and prolonged standing can have.

“Employers should look at encouraging their staff to come to work in comfortable shoes.”

The TUC believes that workers should be able to wear the footwear that is appropriate to their occupation, working environment, and feet. That means employers should ensure that the risk assessment they have to do by law includes risks to the feet as well as slipping risks.

The arguments look set to run and run � and perhaps wobble and fall. But, for the time being, women are voting with their feet and putting comfort first!


Visit Gluv Footwear for more information on comfortable and fashionable Comfort Shoes

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