It is absolute a good idea to be fashionable but it is a bad idea too. Every now and then I see our esteemed beautiful ladies in different pairs of shoes, I love them but when I think of their impact I feel so low. High heels and very flat shoes have become a mess to knees, hips and back.

When you get into your car or stroll into town, you are wearing fine flat shoes while in your bag you are carrying a nice pair of spike high heels to change in the office. These two incidences of foot wear in a day alters your body biomechanics.

Normally during gait (walking) your feet impact how your entire body moves and functions in every step. Your shoes will therefore affect that stability and posture, making your choice of foot wear very important in every occasion. Good shoes are important as your body weight  should always be evenly distributed.

Downside of wearing very flat shoes

  • Wearing very flat shoes has caused plantar fasciitis, a condition that results from swelling of a strong bowstring-like fibrous band connective tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot from your heel bone to your toes.
  • These flat unsupportive shoes such as flip-flops cause your foot arch to drop and your ligaments and tendons in the base of foot to overstretch and tear.
  • The biggest problem with flats is that it lacks the shock absorbing effect as a result of thin unsupportive soles. As your foot slams on the ground during walking, your heel takes the impact which leads into problems overtime.
  • They may cause incredibly painful blisters that form on your Achilles tendon when the back of your flat shoe rubs against your foot. Sometimes it is thought to be because of ill-fitting shoes but often it is because of lack of sole support.

On one other hand we all know “good” pairs of heels can ‘elevate’ any outfit, but do they have a cost? High heels do distort your natural balance by placing your heel above the toes resulting in:

  • Extra weight pressure on the balls of the feet and knees affecting stride length, walking speed and gait which alters your biomechanics.
  • Tension/tightness of your calf muscles.
  • Your hips and spine move out of alignment.
  • The forward curve of your low back decreasing causing muscle overuse, back strain and back pain overtime.

How Heels Throw off your entire body’s alignment (Body Mechanics/Biomechanics)

Wearing high heels makes you lean forward with the lower half of your body and lean back with the upper half to stay balanced. Even though it is slight, it throws off the position of the spine that becomes disastrous to your whole back.

How does it happen?

The normal s-curve of the spine has discs which act as a cushion or spring, reducing stress on the spine bones. When wearing high heels, the shape of the spine is altered and you do not get that same shock absorption as you walk, which overtime, can lead to uneven wear on the discs, joints and ligaments of the back.

Therefore when you wear heels often, the more likely it is that you will experience some sort of discomfort/pain as a result of wearing them or rather more accumulative damage to your spine in consecutive days.

How to get rid of pain from high heel related back pain.

Am just curious to know… How do you feel at the end of day of rocking high heels? Are your feet and legs sore? Maybe your back even hurts. 70% of ladies wear high heels some of the time and realistically, most will not give up high heels altogether maybe it does not hurt or they just push on even if it does hurt. Thus I feel the following guidelines can go a long way in saving you from pain experienced by repeatedly wearing high heel shoe or to prevent negative impacts of heel shoe wearing:

  • Do not wear heels higher than 2 inches; the higher the heel, the more pressure to the balls of the foot and the more the distortion to your s-spine.
  • Put on sneakers, a wedge or a “block shoe”; 2inches width and 1-2 inches high for proper support of your foot
  • Stretch your legs muscles before and after wearing high heels.
  • Try to avoid heels with pointed toes, which may put even more pressure

and strain on your feet.

  • Insert insoles to minimise slipping if possible.

It could not hurt to try the above recommendations to avoid instances of back pain or if already in pain you should seek consultation by a physical therapist at our clinics.

Written by:
Danson King’ori
Physical Therapist
Chiropractic & Physiotherapy Health Centre

The Power of Fashion.. It Costs your Health!

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