Rosewell Clinics Podiatry specialise in women’s health, using our knowledge and expertise to empower women; to support you in standing tall and walking (running!) with confidence, no matter what life has planned for you. In modern medical and clinical research, women’s health has been largely overlooked. Until recently, a male model of health has almost exclusively been used for clinical research with the findings then, ‘generalised’ for women. It’s important that the main gender differences in the biological determinants of health and illness that make women unique are considered, including reproductive and hormonal factors, as well as the differences in physiological characteristics during a women’s lifecycle, women’s anatomy and social choices and lifestyle. Women may be left unaware of the imposing effect of oestrogen on cardiovascular health, or heightened risks of osteoporosis (especially in women going through menopause) for example.
In terms of podiatric conditions specifically, women are more susceptible to certain lower limb pathologies and tend to suffer with postural problems particularly within the lower back, hips, knees and feet.
Factors that increase these risks include:
Low oestrogen levels impact the musculoskeletal system, particularly affecting collagen production (the building block of bones, ligaments, muscle and of course, skin). Reduced collagen levels produce less elasticity and therefore a reduced capacity to repair, which is why women have a higher risk of acquiring soft tissue stress and joint pain.
Laxity, or over-stretching, of ligaments is more prevalent in women, credited to the phases of the menstrual cycle as a result of peak levels of oestrogen and progesterone, and to the hormone relaxin which is present during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. The risk of injury can increase by 2.5 times.
The female anatomy and biomechanical alignment (accounting for women’s beautiful curves!), means significantly wider hips, closer knees and a lower arch height index. Women are often more likely to sustain an overuse injury at the knees or feet as a result.
I imagine you know what we’re going to say here! Women’s footwear shaped by the ideals of the fashion industry, has not appropriately taken into consideration the natural shape and needs of a woman’s foot. Narrow fitting shoes that we push and squeeze our feet and toes into causes overload and a multitude of forefoot and ankle pathologies (like bunions). Stilettos and heels over time will shorten the achilles tendon and calf muscles, which can make walking patterns less efficient and more problematic.
Women through all walks of life, embody power, strength, endurance and resilience. Modern society places hefty demands on the shoulders of today’s woman, who increasingly taken on stressful professional roles and active roles in the family home. Women are increasingly likely to de-prioritise themselves and their health, leading to more musculoskeletal injuries, joint pain and skin conditions.