Pyramid Science

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Fashion too commonly involves high risk and considerable danger: Size Zero. Shoe design is no different and with the foot being at the lowest end of the anatomy can cause the greatest damage. The forces involved are enormous even if simply walking barefoot over flat surfaces and the list of problems is very long (animation), yet disturbingly cosmetic foot surgery is marketed as highly sought after. This may be so, but the reason to seek out correction is not cosmetic and totally ignores the fact that such surgery becomes a necessity once avoidable damage has been done. If any part of the foot is injured, great pain is nearly always involved and resting the feet is usually impracticable and typically impossible. This will almost certainly result in further complications. Damage is time-consuming and can be very expensive to repair (if at all possible).

Invariably, a seemingly 'simple' sprain can develop into a more serious problem as the individual attempts to minimise any pain. The most serious ankle breakage is quite common with modern shoes, but an ankle sprain can all too easily create other gait errors. This is effectively an unconscious response and will cause knee and consequential hip problems by poor walking posture and all as the result of attempts to reduce pain. Adjustments are continuously made in muscular activity to right and left body sides in the attempt to compensate to yet unrecognised, but probable problems in development. The 'fashionable' Size Zero ideal develops a wasting of muscle in the entire leg and supportive pelvic and hip regions with the result that walking becomes dangerous in even 'sensible' shoes. Flexibility between the foot and lower leg through the ankle to the calf is compromised.

  • It is important to recognise the difference between muscle, tendon and ligament. Muscles within the body can be stretched by more than 30% of their normal length within the body. Both ligaments and tendons are made from collagen and are only slightly elastic. Collagen is very strong and a 1 mm diameter cord can support a 10kg weight. A tendon is a structure that attaches a muscle to a bone in a moving joint and are white, glistening, fibrous cords and vary in length and thickness. They are sometimes round and sometimes flattened and have considerable strength, but cannot contract and have little elasticity. Any extension beyond 4% of their length causes irreversible deformation.

Fashionable shoe design is a disaster and it is a case of not if, but when problems will be recognised, probably through initial pain. The appearance of bunions does not produce attractiveness. One of the first obvious actions is to always wear shoes to hide an ugly problem. Clearly, this aggravates the problem and produces a 'between the rock and a hard place' situation. Psychological issues can then develop. Shoes that are too flat do not offer any support to the arch in the underside of the foot and muscle is stretched. The lengthening muscle creates excess strain on the tendons in the foot that cannot be stretched and the eventual result is predictable damage. Flexibility between the entire foot and lower leg (calf) is lost and mechanically this involves an extensive range of complex interactions between the muscles that control joint movement.

The angle of the foot out of level alignment with respect to the lower leg is inversion for the inner edge of the foot tilted down and outer edge tilted up, and eversion in the reverse sense. Outer edge downwards and inner edge upwards: physiology.

Major Muscles In Lower Body
Muscles In Motion
Foot Binding

Ankle: high heels invariably cause sprains and bone breakages. Arthritis can be a long term problem once a bone has broken and 'healed'.

Back: bad posture places stress on the lower and middle back, which produces pain. Long-term back problems are more likely.

Balls of feet: metatarsaglia is caused by excessive pressure on the front of the foot and results in pain and 'burning' in the balls of the feet:

Symptoms, Causes, Risks, Complications,
Diagnosis and Treatment

Calves: the calf muscle can be shortened during posture adjustments and in turn can cause strain in the calf when flat shoes without arch support are used.

Heels: inflammation of the plantar fasciitis (foot ligament) is commonly known as policeman's heel, a painful condition. Tight-fitting shoes can also cause the condition known as winter heel and results from a bony bump on the heel, which rubs against shoes causing pain. Repairs to this condition often involve surgery.

Knee: women tend to walk with slightly bent knees and this pushes the kneecap forward and into a painful position. Any reduced muscular strength in the upper leg resulting from weight loss without muscular conditioning, puts more loading on the quadriceps and they are unable to cope with demands.

Neck: high heels force the back out of its natural alignment and this can cause neck pain. Painful migraine-like tension headache can be a consequence of excess strain on the rear neck muscles pulling across the top of the head. Women in pregnancy would exacerbate lumbar problems for similar reasons. The frontal weight increase places extra strain on the lower spine in any case. A mess of potential problems are indicated unless shoe design is placed as a priority. 'Flattish' shoes are indicated, but only those with some foot-arch support.

Toes: the high heel of a shoe raises the anatomical foot heel and walking forces the foot by body weight alone into the narrowed lowest part of the shoe and squashes the toes into a small area. Even individuals with a light body weight will still find the foot forced into the toe area of any shoe. Heavier people will experience more serious problems especially with the winkle-picker type footwear. This style of shoe for people with wide feet is dangerous enough, but add weight excesses and the really serious problems won't be far away.

The combination of a high stiletto heel, narrow toe area and wide foot is possibly the most dangerous. Not just ill-fitting and crushing the foot bones, but unstable. Broken bones and a damaged ankle is indicated. The non-elastic ligaments and tendons are easily ruptured.


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