So party season is upon us and for many women that will mean wearing high heels more often than usual.
A US study compared the venous blood pressure in the legs of women walking on a treadmill with and without high-heeled shoes. Normal walking coordinates the foot and calf pump. When the foot is off the floor, the foot veins fill with blood. As the heel and arch of the foot contact the floor, the blood flows into the relaxed calf veins. The calf muscles then contract which propels blood up the deep veins.
High heels change the natural walking motion, shifting the weight to the fore foot and toes and causes the calf muscles to remain contracted. This results in a decrease in the filling of the foot and calf veins and a less forceful calf muscle pump. This lose of efficiency causes pooling of venous blood in the leg.
You don't have to stop wearing heels, but you should be aware of what you are doing - make an effort to stretch your calf muscles throughout the day to ensure good blood flow in the legs, and mix up your footwear, give your legs a break! Remember to keep active and walk at least 30 min a day to ensure your calves are pumping blood back up the system - your legs (and your waistline) will thank you.
Dr Nick Kemp is a regular columnist for Style Magazine in which this post was published. You can read his column each month in the Expert section in which he covers all matters of phlebology with the odd bit of humour thrown in.