Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Knees and the pelvic floor muscles : Heeled shoes ?

In the past, medical condemnation of women wearing high heels has been well documented yet in light of an absence of independent cause and effect evidence, this assumption is totally without foundation, based at best, on anecdotal evidence flamed by misogynistic nonsense. Independent research has confirmed the turning effects on the knee caused by wearing higher heels was significantly less than when flat sensible heels were worn. Whilst these findings alone, do not confirm heel styles cause knee problems, wearing a heeled shoe may reduce adverse turning effects on the knees in women susceptible to osteoarthrosis (arthritis).

Research from Italy reported in the European Urology scientific journal suggested wearing heeled shoes could improve pelvic floor muscle tone. The study was undertaken by urologist Dr Maria Cerruto at University of Verona and the results indicated subjects with their feet held at a 15-degree angle to the ground (the equivalent of a two-inch heel) demonstrated less electrical activity in their pelvic muscles and to no disadvantage to their posture. The research involved measuring electrical activity in the pelvic muscles of women when they held their feet at different angles. Cerruto studied 66 volunteers aged under 50. She discovered women who held their feet at a 15-degree angle to the ground, the equivalent of a 7cm (2 inch) heel, showed up to 15% less electrical activity in their pelvic muscles. The results suggested the muscles are more relaxed when women wore higher heels, increasing their strength and ability to contract.

Pelvic floor muscles are an essential component of the female body but become weakened as a result of pregnancy and aging. The muscle group provides vital support to the pelvic organs, which include the bladder, bowels and uterus control and toned pelvic floor muscles play a major role in sexual arousal and continence. Women of all ages are recommended to make pelvic floor muscle exercises a regular routine but many do not comply. The researchers hope wearing heeled shoes can improve this outcome and in some cases, prevent the need for active exercise.

The association between heel height and increased pelvic tone has a long linage (though oft forgotten) and was actively practiced in the Orient with foot binding. The adult, Lotus foot (lotus is a reference to the vulva) was three inches long and the result of tightly binding the feet from aged four to eighteen. The foot was confined to a strong convex soled boot to ensure toes were held towards the heel and the resulting soft tissue contracture created an exaggerated heightened arch or equinus foot i.e. the heel sitting higher than the ball of the foot. Similar but less severe effects are thought to be involved in some people, with prolonged wear of higher heeled shoes.

Confined in this way over one and a half decades the skin surface on the sole of the foot became hypersensitive and was used as a second vagina for safe sex. Alteration to the gait by walking on smaller (elevated) feet was thought to cause changes to the labia forming more sensitive folds. Increased pelvic muscle tone ensured the vagina was tight for life and of course in a culture and belief set where procreation was a sacred worship, sexual arousal was enhanced.

For over a thousand years Lotus feet were looked upon as the most erotic part of a woman's body, and the delicate slippers or bootees worn to cover them were no less delectable. Chinese husbands respectfully coveted their wives' tiny Lotus shoes and would sometimes display them on a small plate (with room to spare) to show off the foot size. Foot binding fell out of favour when China became a republic in 1912 and had virtually disappeared in most provinces by the time Mao Tse-Tung officially banned the practice in 1949.

The 18th century fashion for women wearing small heeled shoes was inspired by the bound feet of the Orient and ironically became a vogue in the Regency Period.

Cerruto MA., Vedovi E., and Mantovani W 2008 Women Pay Attention to Shoe Heels: Besides Causing Schizophrenia They Might Affect Your Pelvic Floor Muscle Activity!! European Urology Volume 53, Issue 5, Pages 1094–1095.

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