Can being a dedicated follower of fashion harm your health?

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High heels, heavy bags and FROW leg crossing can be damaging in the long run...

Danger shoes health feature

© Getty - Handbag

There's nothing better than hitting the high-street, finding an outfit you love, realising it looks amazing on and looking fabulous on your next girls night out. But a constant cocktail of gravity-defying heels, scary ankle-breaking platforms and bulging shoulder bags could be doing damage to your muscles and posture in the long term.

Seriously, fashion can't really ruin your health, but it can cause significant amounts of pain if you're not careful.

These extremes of fashion can trip you up (sometimes literally), so read on to find out how to avoid the most serious perils...

Walk this way

Be it platforms, stilettos or wedges, high heels can put your feet and ankles under great strain. The height of the heel means that your foot is constantly at an angle, putting increased pressure on the ball as well as weakening the ankle area.

Particularly high and thin heels make it notoriously difficult to maintain your balance. You don't have to look far back in fashion history to find examples, think Naomi Campbell falling from her Vivienne Westwood platforms on the catwalk.

Plus, wearing high heels every day can shorten the hamstring muscles in the back of your legs. As a result, walking in flat shoes will actually become more uncomfortable and painful (even though it's the high heels that are causing the issues).

Mix up your footwear by wearing flats on your way to work, smaller heels in the day time and high heels on the occasional night out.

Flat-line

However, nothing in fashion ever runs smooth…Mr Rohit Madhav, foot and ankle surgeon at The London Orthopaedic Clinic told us, "Many people wrongly assume that flat shoes are a much better choice than high heels. Actually, some flat styles such as ballet shoes, canvas pumps or flip-flops, have very thin soles and no cushioning inside, so provide little or no support."

Flat shoes can put strain on the Achilles tendon that runs from the back of the heel, and also the calf muscles in the back of the leg. Within two weeks this strain can morph into swollen ankles and a painful heel condition called plantar fasciitis.

Regularly alternate your shoe style and try not to be religiously committed to one particular pair. If you've been wearing the same pair of ballet flats for a few weeks, make sure you include some calf stretches in your fitness regime to avoid tension in this area.

Shouldering the problem

Dr Deane Halfpenny, Consultant in MSK Pain at The London Orthopaedic Clinic told us, "Carrying heavy bags on a daily basis can lead to general 'wear and tear' of muscles and ligaments in the shoulder area. At the very least, this could result in pain, soreness and aching. At worst, particularly if you have a history of back problems, this could trigger a more serious problem such as a torn ligament or tears to the rotar cuff."

We all have a favoured bag-carrying shoulder, but make sure you regularly swap from your right to your left so lessen the strain. If you're forced to carry a bag that weighs a tonne try and make sure you stand up straight to prevent unsightly habits seeping in to your posture.

Sitting pretty

Sitting with your legs crossed underneath your desk every day can lead to back, neck and knee pain and even conditions like carpel tunnel syndrome. For good day-to-day back health, invest in an office chair with back support, place both feet on the flat on the floor and raise your computer screen so it's slightly above your eye level.

Bunions

More than 50% of women in the UK suffer from bunions - a bony deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe. Even Victoria Beckham has admitted to suffering from the painful condition, which is normally caused by tight fitting, narrow or high-heeled shoes.

Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr R. Lloyd William's suggests using, "Simple measures such as well-fitting shoes, simple painkillers and padding in the first instance. If this does not manage the pain sufficiently, the good news is that a new minimally invasive procedure is now available to treat bunions, rather than the traditional surgery, meaning that you could be fully recovered and back in your shoes in a matter of weeks."

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