Last week Japanese women started a movement to ban employers from enforcing footwear rules.
The #KuToo campaign was started in response to Japanese employers demanding that female employees wear high heels.
Now it’s gaining global support as many people are complaining about unfair dress codes that ask women to compromise their health to meet strict requirements.
It’s not the first time this conversation has been in the spotlight. A similar petition was launched in the U.K in 2015 when receptionist Nicola Thorp was sent home for not wearing heels.
Parliament debated the topic and found that: ‘Company dress codes must be reasonable and must make equivalent requirements for men and women. This is the law and employers must abide by it.’
So, companies can ask female staff to wear heels or makeup if there is an ‘equivalent standard for men’, such as requiring men to wear a suit or smart shoes.
But what exactly happens to the body if you’re constantly putting all your weight into a skinny stiletto?
Tim Allerdyce, a registered osteopath representing the Institute of Osteopathy, tells Metro.co.uk that these types of shoes can wreak havoc on the feet.
‘It causes problems from the big toe right up to the spine,’ says Tim. ‘The first area we see problems are bunions which creates a painful lump on the outside of your big toe.
‘Typically a bunion tends to put pressure on the front of the foot and the bones which can cause a deviation of the big toe. It creates a pressure contact on the bunion. It also looks unsightly and can be painful as the big toe can get stiff.
‘We can also see issues with tight calf muscles because as your heels are elevated it shortens the calf muscle.
‘That can be a desirable look to have that muscle activation but it shortens the muscle which can have a biomechanical impact on the legs which you want to be at a good length.
‘Constant wear also applies pressure to the shin bone and added stress to it and that can lead to issues such as shin splint – pain on the front of the shin, which is common in runners.
‘You can also get calluses, hard patches of skin, under the front of the foot, on the ball.’
Tim adds that though we know that there is a force distribution going through the hip joint while wearing high heels, we can’t say it directly causes specific hip problems, even if it does cause stress on the area.
He advised that the best way to avoid these conditions is to give the feet a rest.
‘Limit the amount of time in high heels, especially during a commute, if you need to wear it to work,’ Tim tells us.
‘Always commute in flats and trainers to take the stress away from hips and knees.’
Those who still feel pain from frequent wear should do calf stretches, he adds. There are home remedies you can do to deal with pain such as standing on the edge of a step and letting the heel drop towards the next step, allowing the feet to stretch.
Massaging the sole of the feet can help – try using a golf ball or a rolling pin.
Other remedies include a hot bath and mobilisation, such as drawing circles or the alphabet with your foot.
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists found that a quarter of women wear high heels every day or ‘frequently’, increasing their risks of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a common type of the condition and causes joints to become stiff and painful.
The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists put a motion to the Trades Union Congress a few years ago, pointing out that ‘wearing high heels can cause long term foot problems, such as blisters, corns and callus, to serious foot, knee and back pain, and damaged joints.’
General Secretary of the TUC Frances O’Grady told Metro.co.uk that the point still applies to current day.
‘Regularly wearing high heels puts a lot of pressure on knee joints and can lead to back problems,’ she said.
‘They must be a choice, not a condition of the job. Dress codes need to be based on common sense, not outdated sexist policies.’
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