Doctor of Chiropractic, Dr. Alexander Jimenez looks at high heels at what they do to the back.
Ladies, ever wonder why you suffer from regular bouts of lower back pain? Achy hips? How about crazy tight leg muscles? Don’t blame it on your cycling class, or too many squats or, the trainer you only see once or twice a week. Look down. Are you wearing high heels? Bingo! You’ve heard high heels are bad for you. But it’s not just because they cause all kinds of pain and trauma to your feet. High heels are also messing up your physical fitness. They throw you out of proper postural alignment causing your joints and spine to take on more wear and tear, which means aches and pains.
Is it possible to still look rockin’ and save your joints? My suggestion is more Athleisure-wear. I know some fashion hard-liners say, no way will I walk around in yoga pants on a weekday! But we’ve come a long way since those flare-leg, fold-over yoga pants.
Let’s chat for a moment about the evils of high heels.
First there’s the obvious. They make your feet hurt. Blisters, calluses and swelling are par for the course. And pointy toes, fuhgeddaboutit! I’m sure they were invented by someone on the Marquis de Sade’s payroll. Second, they can lead to foot injuries like plantar fasciitis (usually from a bone spur that makes your heels hurt), hammertoes, bunions, and neuromas. Then there’s the domino effect.
Not only do high heels make your feet hurt, but problems with the feet can travel up the leg and cause injuries in the back, knees and hips. Your knees take on extra pressure from the weight being pushed forward onto the balls of the feet. Walking in this position makes your hip flexors and calf muscles short and tight. And it doesn’t stop there. Back problems are incredibly common in women who don’t give up their high heels.
It’s time for stuffy office attire to retire. Comfy clothes and flat shoes can be very chic. Have you seen the boards on Pinterest? Thanks to this hopefully permanent fashion style, my jeans and heels spend more time in my closet than on my body. Leggings and cute kicks are my go to’s. Night out? No prob. I reach for my sleek workout leggings, a ruched top or off the shoulder top with some high heel sneaks (they’re wedges so not nearly as bad for you). I also discovered these by Bluprint which I put to the test at 2 huge conventions where I walking and standing for hours on end. The soles made of memory foam – like those beds!
My podiatrist friend, Steven Rosenberg, DPM has been preaching the need for comfy shoes to his female clients for years. (Fortunately for his practice, not everyone listens!) Dr. Steve says, wearing shoes designed more for comfort can help you live more pain-free. “Because comfort shoes are made of soft cushiony materials with soft foam innersoles, those are what you should turn to for shopping, walking or standing for long periods of time to avoid blisters, muscle spasms or arch cramps.” He also says to check for arch support in your shoes. If there’s none, you can buy ones to put inside.
Even after reading this, you may still not be willing to give up high heels for good. Me either. I still get glammed up once in a while.
Try this convenient device, the foot rocker by Vive. It stretches the calf and the sole of the foot relieving pain from plantar fasciitis.
So next time you’re shopping for shoes, think about your foot fitness first. Look for fashion that keeps you closer to the ground and that will hopefully keep you farther away from the doctor.
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Injury, Trauma & Spinal Rehabilitation Specialist