How Does Wearing High Heels Affect Your Posture and Health?
Wearing high heels can cause the following to occur:
• Clawed toes (toes curl – like claws – as they have more pressure placed on them when wearing high heels, and they try to grip the ground).
• Callouses and corns can develop. Callouses often develop on the ball of the feet as a result of the increased pressure (and in areas where high heels shoes may rub and irritate the skin).
• Metatatarsalgia (or ‘ball of foot pain’) – can result when excessive pressure is placed on the balls of the feet. Metatarsalgia is a condition that causes the small bones in the forefoot (called metatarsals) to collapse - causing a burning sensation at the ball of the foot. Untreated, metatarsalgia can cause a ‘Mortons Neuroma to develop – that is the metatarsals collapse and impinge, or entrapthe nerve, causing pain that can continue when not wearing high heels.
• Shortening of the calf muscles, as high heels angle the foot and lower leg, causing the calf muscles to contract, which over time, and with prolonged high heel wearing causes the muscle to shorten.
• Contributes to excess pronation (or rolling in and flattening of the arches). When the wearer is in flat shoes, they hyper extend the knee, or push it backwards resulting in knee pain and pain at the back of the knee.
• Puts excessive pressure on the knee joint and strains the ham string muscles. This pressure on the knee joint can cause degenerative changes in the knee joint capsule.
• Tilts the pelvis forward and accentuates the sway back which increases back and hip problems, which may require Osteopathic treatment.
Wearing high heels contributes to bad posture over time, as the body’s centre of gravity is moved forward causing the head to lean forward. This creates tension to the upper back and neck, which may lead to tension headache syndrome. As the body’s centre of gravity moves, changes to the buttocks and lower back can occur. A sway back can be accentuated and the buttocks may stick out further.
Advice to Women Who Insist on Wearing High Heel Stiletto Shoes:
It is impossible to tell women to stop wearing high heels and stilettos. So in order to minimize the effect they have on the muscles and structure of the body, it is advisable to wear an orthotic device – an insert that sits inside the shoe. There are orthotics specifically designed to fit inside high heel shoes. By wearing a specially designed high heel orthotic, the foot is realigned, causing the knee joint to track correctly (causing less wear and tear on the joints), whilst providing comfort – meaning less aches and pains.
A Safe heel height would be around 2.5 cm as this does not place undue stress on the biomechanical structure or body structure. Anything above 2.5cm will start to cause the problems listed above.
Exercises: Stretching the hamstring and calves and core strengthening of the abdominals (to help the pelvis align, which helps maintain correct posture). Pilates is a great way of stretching muscles and increasing core muscle strength.
Intrinsic foot exercises: Drop a pen on the floor and try to pick it up with your toes – to increase movement in the toes and feet.
Do High Heels cause bunions?
NO! they do not CAUSE bunions. Bunions are primarily caused by predisposed medical biomechanical factors (or body mechanics structure)i.e. the structures you genetically inherit (hereditary). However, high heels are a major factor in contributing to the growth of the bunion and exacerbating the condition, in those that have a family history or predisposition to bunions.
High heels will aggravate and accentuate the bunion and cause further deviation of the big toe and as a result place a lot of pressure on the big toe and big toe joint.
Do High Heels Effect the Shape of the Feet?
YES, they change the shape of the foot over time with excessive high heel wear. Take for example Chinese foot binding and note how it changes the foot structure. In a similar way, tight fitting or ill fitting shoe wear will have an effect on the foot structure and change the shape and contours of the feet.
Podiatrist , Tremayne Porter is available for consultation at :
Northern Beaches Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Centre Suite 4/ 2a Redman Rd Dee Why NSW, 2099
PH: 0416 090 680