High Heels – Are they worth it?

03 August 2016

woman walking with shopping bags Willow Chiropractic

A very high percentage of people, mainly women, will wear high heels at some point in their lives with many wearing them daily. They may look pretty and help bring your outfit together but what is actually happening to your body when wearing a pair?

The obvious changes are that your weight is pushed forward onto the balls of your feet and your ankles point more downwards in an extended position. Doesn’t sound that bad does it? Well, the other changes that occur to your posture because of this are having adverse affects on your spinal health.

When you wear high heels the curve in your lower back increases, this puts more strain on you vertebral discs and joints. Over a period of time changes can occur in your spine that can lead to chronic problems, early degenerative changes from continued altered posture is common. As well as your bones being in an altered position, your muscles around the spine, neck and low back and in your legs need to work a lot harder which can lead to increased tension and tightness.

So how high is too high?

A study carried out in 2015 looked at differences in standing balance and functional mobility (ability to perform moving tasks) between a 1cm, 4cm, 7cm and 10cm heel. Functional mobility started to decrease at 7cm and standing balance at 10cm. The more experienced wearers did not show any significant difference in ability, both functional and standing, however it has been reported that long-term wearing of high heels causes shortening of the calf muscle and increases achilles tendon stiffness which reduces the active range of motion of the ankle. They also have much greater increases in knee flexion during the stance phase of high heeled gait, which may cause knee abnormalities such as osteoarthritis. 

In an ideal world, you should not wear heels too often and when you do, keep them as low as possible!!

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