High Heels: High Risk for Back Pain

11.22.2013 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

The latest fashion footwear trends as of late have been: the bigger the better! Sky high heels may make your legs look long and lean but they can be causing permanent damage to your overall health. Before you glam up your day, by slapping on a fashionable pair of heels or stilettos, it’s important to know the pernicious effects they may have.

Top Six Negative Effects of Wearing High Heels:

1. Abnormal Posture & Low Back Pain: Wearing high heels can shape your posture. The heel of your foot is unnaturally placed above your toes, which puts your entire body out of alignment. When your center of gravity is pushed forward, your lower back is strained by trying to compensate for the unnatural position. Changing position of the spine can put pressure on the nerves in your lumbar region, which can then lead to sciatica, a shooting pain, tingling or numbness down the leg and/or general aches and pain.

2. Develop “Pump Bump”: The scientific term for “pump bump” is, Haglund’s deformity, and refers to the pressure on the back of the heel from shoes. Women who have a more prominent calcaneus (bump underneath the attachment of the Achilles tendon) are more likely to develop “pump bump” from shoes rubbing and irritating the heel.

3. Increased Risk of Degenerative Join Disease & Arthritis: High heels naturally throw your body into a forward position and can put increased pressure, up 26%, on the inside of the knee. Increased pressure can lead to degenerative joint disease or even arthritis.

4. Shortened Calf Muscles: Recent studies have shown that long-term wear of high heels (two inches or higher) can minimize a woman’s calf muscle up to 13 percent, permanently. The Achilles tendon, attached to the calf muscle, can also shorten and tighten by up to 22 percent.

5. Imbalance: Too high of a heel can cause imbalance in even the most seasoned stiletto wearer. Imbalance from high heels coupled with weak ankles can increase your chance of falling and/or spraining your ankle.

6. Multitude of Foot Conditions: These include -

Metatarsaigia: Pain and inflammation in the ball of your foot, can be developed by wearing ill-fitting high heels.

Hammertoes: Condition caused by improper fit, the toes curl up to fit the footwear and can become misshapen, permanently.

Bunions: Abnormal, bony bumps that form on the joint of the big toe. The most common cause is wearing shoes that are too tight in the foot bed.

Morton’s neuroma: A thickening of tissue around a nerve leading to your toes. This condition that commonly affects the area between your third and fourth toes. Morton’s neuroma can feel like there is a pebble in your shoe, or cause a sharp pain in the ball of your foot. The cause is typically from irritation, injury or pressure.

Studies suggest that women should mix up their footwear during the week, switching from heels to flats. Proper fit, arch support, a low heel and stretching can lower your risk for developing any of the above. Worried about shelving your high heels? Fret not; you can still have it all, there are many stylish low heeled options on the market.

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