But aside from just sacrificing comfort for trendiness, high heel shoes are terrible for your body, causing a slew of health problems that chiropractors encounter every day.
Here are some facts and stats about wearing high heels to share with your patients and audience:
With high heels:
- Your chest is pushed forward
- The lower back is thrust forward, taking the hips and spine out of alignment
- There is excess pressure on the knees, including hyperextention
- Increased pressure on the balls of the feet through a downward force
- Greater impact on the metatarsal region and medial forefoot when the foot strikes during walking
In fact, the best description of wearing high heels is that it's like walking up a steep ramp all day!
However, with flat shoes, your spine is fairly straight, your calf muscles are relaxed, and your body weight is evenly distributed throughout your foot.
Additional weight pressure from high heels:
The higher the heel, the more weight pressure is exerted on the forefoot, or ball of the foot.
In fact, the additional weight pressure on the foot is:
- 22% increase for 1-inch heel
- 57% increase for 2-inch heel
- 76% increase for 3-inch heel
How do high heels affect certain areas of your body?
The natural and healthy S-curve shape of the back helps to reduce stress and shock on the vertebrae. But in high heels, the lumbar spine flattens, as well as a posterior displacement of the head of the thoracic spine.
Wearing high heels commonly causes Spondylolisthesis, where one vertebrae slips forward over another, especially in the weight-bearing lumbar region of the spine.
Walking in high heels causes excess force on the inside of the knee, which is a common location for developing osteoarthritis for women. In fact, high heels increase the pressure on the knee joint by up to 26 percent.
Your calf muscles will contract and tighten based on the angle of your high heels, increasing the risk of injury.
High heels cause your foot to move down in relation to the heel, which also tightens and strains the Achilles tendon.
Anatomical changes over time:
In fact, wearing high heels over time can cause significant changes to your body, which often results in serious conditions to the feet, legs, and back.
So what can you do to minimize the effects of high heels on your body?
It may be unrealistic to ask you to throw out all of your high heeled shoes and never wear them again, but here are some ways you can minimize or counteract the damage:
Avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time, so change into flats for lunch or after work.
Stretch leg muscles before and after putting on your high heels
Try to keep the heel at less than 2 inches to minimize the damage, with 1 inch or less being ideal
Your feet naturally swell during the day, so purchase shoes in the afternoon or evening for the best comfortable fit
Don’t wear only high heels regularly, even if you switch up the actual pairs of shoes. Instead, wear a variety of shoes with plenty of flats or comfortable sneakers, etc. mixed in
Shoes with leather insoles help keep your foot from slipping, which helps minimize the pressure and impact
Likewise, heels with supports already built-in are a great option, especially under the metatarsal region, which is where the greatest pressure occurs
If you have to wear high heels, avoid high heels with pointed toes – they are even worse for you!