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Great heels - but how’s your back?:

Spinal Health Week is focusing on postural fitness. High heels are amongst the worst offenders when it comes to back pain.
By Albert Huynh
Date: May 20 2013
Editor Rating:

There is no doubt that most women love wearing high heel shoes. With a large variety of styles, and the ability to make them look taller, slender and more attractive, it’s no wonder it plays such an essential role in women’s fashion. However, we all know that it comes at a cost to the body and it is no surprise at all to those that do wear it. Although, how much does your body pay for it in the long run?

In a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Dr Neil Cronin and his team researched the effects of wearing high heels on the biomechanics of walking and at the muscle and tendon level. His team recruited nine young women who had worn high heels for at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of two years and ten young women who rarely, if ever, wore heels to serve as controls.

His study showed that women who usually wore high heels walked differently to women who usually wore flats, even when the heel wearers walked bare foot.  High heel wearers moved with shorter, more forceful strides than the control group, with their feet continually in a flexed, toes-pointed position. This showed that heel wearers had shortened muscle fibres in their calf muscles thus producing greater strain on the calf muscles. As a result, high heel wearers walked less efficiently with and without heels thus requiring more energy to cover the same amount of ground as people in flats and probably causing muscle fatigue.

Wearing high heels also alters your posture and the biomechanical load on your ankles, knee, hips, pelvis and low back. High heels cause the pelvis to tip forward, which increases the curve in through the low back. While this does accentuate a woman’s curves, it does lead to increased wear in the lower back, which may cause back pain. Should you experience any pain while wearing high heels, do consider changing your foot wear to something more comfortable and supportive.

As a Chiropractor, I see the many effects of women wearing high heels. And while I can’t stop it from happening, my best recommendations are:

1.  Wear high heels less often, keeping it to once or twice a week.

2.  Regularly stretch the calf muscles to prevent them from shortening.

3.  Perform core stabilisation exercises to keep your spine and posture strong and healthy.

To maintain good spinal health make an appointment to have regular spinal checks by a Chiropractor. A fantastic resource we promote to patients for finding and booking an appointment is

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