They make you taller, make your legs look longer, and all-around look fantastic. So what could possibly be wrong with wearing some sexy high heels? Much like wearing a corset or putting rings around your neck, when you put consistent stress on the same parts of your body there are always going to be consequences. Before you strap on your stilettos, you may want to consider what they are doing to you.
Sprains and Strains
Those strappy, high-heeled sandals look fabulous, but what happens if you miss a step? The answer: sprained ankles, dislocations, and even broken bones. When you “fall” off your high heels and roll the side of your foot you are putting immense stress (i.e. all your body weight) on the bones, tendons, and ligaments of your foot and ankle, which in some cases can lead to permanent damage. Ouch!
Our bodies can handle a lot, but when you are constantly putting strain on the same areas there is going to be a price to pay. High heels cause your centre of gravity to lean forwards which in turn misaligns the hips and causes an increased curve of the lumbar spine (hyper-lordosis). No wonder your back always hurts at the end of a long day or even the next day too following that special black tie event you attended last night! Additionally, you are putting strain on the inside of the knee, which is a common area where osteoarthritis often strikes women later in life.
Wear & Tear
When you wear high heels, your calf muscles are held contracted for extended periods, which with regular wear can even cause muscle fibres in your calf muscles to shorten permanently. This can lead to problems if you partake in athletic activities, as the stress on the muscle caused by going from short (contracted) to long (stretched) can result in tears and strains. Meanwhile, having your toes consistently bent at the middle joint may result in an inability to re-straighten them, or you may get Achilles tendon problems, also resulting in heel pain.
Whilst the best solution would be to stick to flats, understandably this just may not be something you are willing to do, particularly if you are attached to the contents of your shoe closet. As a woman and a chiropractor I completely understand this dilemma first hand. If I’m completely honest, sometimes I just have to take off my chiropractor “hat” and put on my fashion victim “hat”. But in saying so, I do seem to pay for it one way or the other, either with foot pain from squashing my foot into a pointy toed heel (I’m a size 42) or with a sore lower back from having a hyper-lordotic posture for an extended period of time, or sometimes even both. If you “have to” wear heels try to keep them under 4cm (1.5 inches), or at the very least keep the standing / walking to a minimum. You may also want to consider chiropractic to resolve any old tension or postural patterns that have occurred as a result of your lifetime of heel-heeled body abuse.