High heels may look good, but they do not feel good. And your aching feet are sending you a message: be careful! High heels are so perilous they can actually send you to the ER, and the University of Alabama has the numbers to prove it after analyzing data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. "Although high-heeled shoes might be stylish, from a health standpoint, it would be worthwhile for those interested in wearing high-heeled shoes to understand the risks and the potential harm that precarious activities in high-heeled shoes can cause," warned lead study author Gerald McGwin, an epidemiology professor in the UAB School of Public Health.

Three alarming risks you face when wearing high heels:

1. Emergency room visits
We're not talking about stubbing your toe. In a decade, injuries that were severe enough to warrant medical treatment doubled. Between 2002 and 2012, U.S. emergency rooms treated 123,355 high heel-related injuries, and more than 19,000 of these occurred in 2011 alone.

2. Sprains, strains and breaks
More than 80 percent of high heel injuries were sprains and strains to the ankles and feet, while slightly less than 20 percent involved the knee, trunk, shoulder, head or neck. And about one in five of these accidents resulted in a broken bone. About half the injuries occurred at home. Those who are most likely to be treated in an ER with a high heel injury are women in their 20s and 30s.

3. Oh, my aching legs
In addition to causing discomfort in the lower leg, ankle and foot, high heels inhibit movement of the ankle muscles and reduce step length and overall range of motions. They can also cause you to lose your balance.

Should you give up high heels? Not necessarily. McGwin advises wearing the right footwear for the right occasion and setting. When you do wear heels, try not to wear them too long.


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