Do you wear high heels? Do you have sore feet? How about legs? Do you experience back pain? Neck pain? You may be asking how high heels can affect my back, or neck. We all know wearing high heels can cause achy feet, blisters and even foot and ankle injury in one missed step! Well…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 and alignment of the body. High heels put the foot at an unusual angle that pulls muscles and joints out of alignment. This poor alignment pattern can lead to problems not limited to just the feet.
Structurally, the plantar fascia in the foot is connected to tendons, then to the calf muscles, which in turn connect to the hamstrings. This unnatural angle can cause muscle cramps and places anterior load on the knees which can over time can cause arthritis. Tendons and ligaments are at greater risk for strain and sprains. The hamstrings attach to the pelvis and low back, which is why wearing high heels can make your back ache along with your feet. Also, walking on the balls of your feet will shift your center of gravity forward, forcing you to arch your back when you stand and further contributing to neck and back pain. This extra arching of the low back also leads to a forward translation of the head stressing upper back and neck muscles.
Mix up your shoe wear. Wear those stilettos out to fancy dinner or to the show where the majority of time is sitting. Opt for lower heels at work and flats for shopping. Stretch calves and hamstrings after wearing heels.
You can google stretches for women who wear heels and come up with over a million results, this proves it is on the minds of many women. Women’s Health magazine has some good stretches here along with pictures and pretty good instructions.
If you have been wearing heels for a long time and experience any of these pains described above, they may have already caused misalignments. Go see a chiropractor, they can assess the alignment of you neck, back and lower extremities, over a little time they can adjust the misalignments. Paired with stretching exercises and smart heel wearing schedule you can still keep the effects of heels on your health to a minimum.
Being a doctor who is concerned with every aspect of a client’s health, whole-person care, I often have to become a detective of sorts and explore what is the true cause of their dis-ease. I must look beyond the symptoms and considering how environment and lifestyle factors impact health. With advanced knowledge of how the musculoskeletal and nervous systems interact I know the body performs better when it is properly aligned. Allowing the patient to be empowered over their own health, giving them the facts, risk and benefits so they can make decisions that improve their health. Working to solve a problem, partnering with my patients, help them get healthy and stay well, and to thrive rather than just survive.