From what people tell me, fashion hurts if you’re doing it right (I guess you’ll never see me on a magazine or red carpet). If this is true, high heels must be the king of high fashion. A few sources believe they may contribute to back pain and a number of other ailments. Why is this and what can you do? I will do my best to explain.
When you wear high heels, it raises the posterior aspect of your feet and legs. This pushes your center of gravity forward of where it should be. To counteract this, your body must bend backwards. In particular, it is believed that the lower part of your spine, the lumbar spine, compensates by becoming hyperlordotic – or “curved” posteriorly more than it should be.
Normal Alignment Standards
There is a normal alignment for your spine. This is no different than other accepted standards for your body. For example, we know normal blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg and normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The farther you move away from normal, the more your body may suffer. When your spine shifts away from the accepted standard, it puts stress on other parts of the body. This is similar to a car out of alignment. The abnormal position will stress brakes, shocks, and other important parts of your car causing them to wear down. With respect to your spine, misalignment can cause a number of issues including compensatory muscle spasm, back pain, ligament stress, facet impingement and more.
What Can Be Done Then?
There seems to be a number of strategies that an individual may follow beyond the cessation of wearing high heels according to www.osteopathic.org.
- Wear high heels that are 1.5 inches or less
- Only wear heels on days that require less walking and standing
- Make sure the shoes are the correct size
- Alternate shoes during the day (for example flatter shoes most of day but heels for meeting, etc.)
- Stretch your calves
There definitely appears to be a reasonable biomechanical mechanism for back pain and wearing high heels. Naturally, the best strategy is to avoid wearing them. If you still plan on wearing them, however, follow some of the above mentioned strategies. Fashion may hurt, but high heels don’t need to be the reason why.
This image is provided by Erik Dalton at http://erikdalton.com/media/newsletters-online/high-heels-and-back-pain/.