Whatever style you prefer, whether it’s stiletto, kitten heel, platform, wedge or court, the high heel shoe has many fans. And from a fashion and aesthetic point of view, it’s easy to understand why. The higher the heel the more elongated your silhouette becomes. A heel gives us height, making us feel more confident and appear more slender.
But high heels give us other things, too – like posture problems, foot conditions, aching joints and other physical ailments. Wearing high heels every day for long periods can have detrimental effects on your health, but specifically your posture.
Ramping it up
Wearing high heels mimics the action of standing on a ramp and in such a position your body is out of alignment and posture suffers. This unnatural angle causes the chest, lower back and hips all to be pushed forward, out of line with the spine. This piles pressure and excess strain onto hips, knees and ankles and over time negatively impacts on posture. Those who wear towering heels over a long period are at risk of altering their body’s anatomy – changes such as shortened calves and thickened tendons occur because the body is out of balance and needs to compensate.
For posture problems that cause discomfort, a visit to a professional such as Chiropractor Sol Cogan will help identify areas where improvements can be made. Chiropractors are familiar with the spinal and posture problems triggered by high heeled footwear and frequently offer relief to those troubled with this type of pain.
A flat future?
So what else can be done? Do we have to ditch our favorite stilettos and wear flatties for the foreseeable future? The answer is no, but you would be wise to adjust your high heel wearing habits if you want to avoid long term issues with posture, joint pain and foot problems.
If you are a committed, daylong wearer of stilettos, consider cutting heel height down to no more than two inches. Try wearing comfortable trainers with good arch support on your way to work and changing into heels on arrival – this will give your body a chance to move in a free and relaxed way which will promote healthier posture. Make time for some stretching exercises before and after slipping on your heels, this will help to relax calf muscles which can become cramped and bulging with excessive high heel wear. At the gym, work on strengthening core muscles to help support your posture. Invest in a range of shoe styles with varying heel heights – ranging from flats to mid height – and keep mixing up your footwear to give your feet and body a break. Choose shoe styles that give your feet room and avoid pointed toe designs that force your feet into unnatural positions. Wearing high heels places tremendous force downwards onto the balls of your feet and can cause soft tissue pain and cramping – the higher the heel the greater the pressure, so try and wean yourself off those five inch favorites and opt for something lower risk.
Taking care of your posture in high heels is a tall order, but knowing the risks empowers you to make that judgment call. Would life in flatties really be so bad? With the extra height from improved posture, you may not even miss your heels after a while.