Women’s feet an unexpected career issue

by May 18, 2016

Women’s feet – another career issue men don’t face

Compulsory high heels and women’s feet at work have become an international talking point.  Not many could have missed the furore of the U.K. receptionist who was sent home without pay because she was not willing to wear high heels at work. Read: Every day sexism and flat shoes. Another case emerged when a photo shared on social media more than 11500 times of a woman’s bleeding feet after working a shift as a waitress  in Joey Restaurants in Edmonton, Canada.

We all remember Carrie Bradshaw from “Sex in the City” who gave high heels their own persona  “[Tweet “I’m not here right now, but my shoes are, so please leave a message.” “]Today any hostess worth her salt has a basket  of flip flops or slippers in a rest room, to offer relief to her suffering women guests at the end of a social event.

women's feet

Women’s feet – are they a career issue?

High heels send a powerful biological message to both men and women. They give the illusion of toned calves, which suggest good health and fertility. Women want to project that image and men are attracted to it.  High heels arch the lower back, tilt the pelvis and strengthen the gluteus muscles, all of which intimate good health. They tap into primal DNA that let’s everyone know that we can have healthy babies.

But women who go down this path are more likely than men to have foot problems.

The cost to women’s feet

Each of our feet contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 120 muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. These all work together to support the weight of your body, act as shock absorbers, maintain our balance and propel us forward with each step. Most people spend several hours a day standing on their feet  (although that is decreasing as we become dangerously sedentary) and take around 10,000 individual steps. Feet are small compared to the rest of the body, so are subject to great impact with each stride, causing high levels of pressure every time we take a step or just stand up. Read: High heels should carry a health warning

Painful feet impact posture

A large number of people may not have pain in their feet, but they could be the source of other problems further up the body. Research suggests that 80% of people have foot problems, whether they feel any effects or not from them.  80% also experience lower back pain at some point in their life. Many physicians and chiropractors believe there is a connection


bleeding feet

Waitresses feet after a shift in Canada


Poor foot alignment can cause an array of problems including, back pain, sciatica, sacral joint pain, sway back, hip-joint pain, posture problems, bulging discs, knee pain, osteoarthritis, pelvic imbalance, joint and muscle pain from the legs to the back. And let’s not forget the pain and problems with the feet themselves.
Many of us hyperpronate, which means our arches collapse and ankles roll in and they do not properly support our bodies. [Like a house with a weak foundation, the whole body is affected. The knees rotate inward, the back sways, so the stomach and buttocks stick out, the shoulders move forward and so does the head. This is typically bad posture. Balance is impacted, and the stress to the body and muscles over time is significant.

Posture and body language

Our posture speaks volumes about what is going on inside of us. If someone is slouched or in pain, it suggests they are unhappy, unhealthy or disinterested.  That pain appears on their faces. Maybe they are frowning or grimacing. They may shift on their feet as they try to find a comfortable position. They are so caught up handling inner body messages of discomfort, that they can’t be totally present. They appear restless and in the worst cases shifty, which people associate with being unreliable. Compare that to someone who strides with a smile, exuding energy, health, and vitality. They convey a “can do” attitude that draws people to them. This contributes to professional presence. People are attracted to success. It’s part of the “fake it ’til you make it” vibe.

The reality is that women  are encouraged or expected to wear high heels. This can be via the workplace, fashion and media industries, and marketing or peer pressure.  Hell, we all love a high heel.  When women commit to the high heel route, they embark on a path that could ultimately impact their careers. The irony is that “power heels”  over time can actually do the reverse. They sap our energy and disempower us. Women’s feet have become an unexpected career issue that men don’t face.


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Staff Writer: Career Contributor
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