While we try to slip into the most stylish shoes, we don't ponder on how it can have an adverse effect on some body parts and also overall health.
Shoes are no longer just an accessory to protect our feet. They have become a style statement and a very imperative part of our wardrobe. We tend to select a different pair, design, and style for different occasions. But the one thing that has always attracted women of all eras and ages is a pair of stylish heels. A slight elevation from the ground also adds a certain style to the gait, no matter the type of heels like stilettos, platforms, wedges, etc.
But is wearing heels regularly safe for your health? While many women do complain about the discomfort they experience in heels, a lot of them choose to ignore that. But this negligence might prove to be detrimental to your spine and cause chronic pain in the long run. Wearing heels for long hours regularly can affect your body posture and disturb the balance of your body.
“From an osteopathic perspective, we’re looking for the body to be centered from head to toe. High heels put the foot at an angle and pull muscles and joints out of alignment, so the effects aren’t limited to the feet,” Dr. Sajid. A. Surve, associate professor at the University of North Texas Health Science Center Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine explained. “It’s not unusual for people who spend lots of time in high heels to have low back, neck and shoulder pain because the shoes disrupt the natural form of the body.”
"What we do know is that high heels, based on construction, alter your spine's natural alignment. Frequent disruption of alignment places uneven wear and tear on your vertebral discs, joints, and back ligaments," according to the Spine Health Institute.
According to the institute, when you wear high heels for long hours, the alignment of the spine is altered which puts you at potential risk of developing back and lower back pain. Structurally, the ligaments and muscles in your foot are connected to the hamstrings which are, in turn, connected to the pelvis and low back. Wearing heels causes the lower back to arch more than normal because the body weight is pushed forward. To compensate, the upper body has to lean back to maintain balance. Now, when the body is trying to maintain an unusual alignment it pressurizes the discs which in turn causes back and lower back pain.
"Wearing high heels on a daily, or very regular basis, over years, can actually cause anatomical changes to your body. In addition to the extra strain on your back and knees, the calf muscles can also shorten and the tendons can get tighter and thicker," says fitness expert Jill Brown, according to HuffPost.
"One research study has shown that when wearing high heels for short periods of time, the upper body, lumbar spine, and pelvis are negatively affected. This study also suggests that wearing high heels for long periods of time can potentially cause the spine to become hyperlordotic or swayback. This condition can be painful due to added strain on the lower back and legs," says the Spine Health Institute.
Foraminal stenosis occurs when nerves that travel through the spine get squeezed. The pain can radiate through the buttocks and down the legs. Symptoms are shooting pains, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, spasms and, or cramping, reports HuffPost.
On the other hand, sciatica pain can occur when the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve running from the bottom of the lumbar spine all the way down the legs gets pressurized. When the sciatic nerve gets compressed it can cause pain radiating from the pelvis and trickling down to the legs. The symptoms are muscle weakness, numbness, tingling, pelvic pain, etc.
- According to the Spine Health Institute, you should not wear heels more than 2 inches. The higher the heel, the more pressure on the ball of the foot.
- Don't wear high heels for long hours or if you do, change into flats when involving in physical activities.
- Mix up your style and avoid don't wear high heels every day.
- Stretch your leg muscles before and after wearing high heels, suggests ptHealth.
- Wear shoes that grip your feet or insert leather soles. When the footwear does not provide grip, the feet and toes stress more to maintain grip which can cause back and feet pain.
If the pain persists, visit your doctor immediately.