Side Effects Of High Heels
High heels have a bad reputation for being painful. While some claim to be comfortable for all day wear, there is no denying that high heels have their problems. But just how bad are they for our bodies?
How We Stand With High Heels
When a person wears high heels, they are changing their center of gravity. This causes their body to lean forward and the person needs to adjust their posture in order to stand without falling. Standing differently in this way will make the muscles in their back, hips, and legs to tense up. Walking around all day while maintaining this level of muscular tension can result in muscular fatigue by the end of the day. Some tired muscles might not sound so bad, but over time, this can affect the curvature of the spine, poor kinetic chain alignment, and chronic back pain.
Many high heels are shaped with a small, even unnaturally pointed, toe box. If the part of the shoe where you put your toes is not shaped like your toes, you can bet that you are changing the way your toes normally rest in order to get into that shoe. Smashing your toes into an odd shape could lead to hammertoe, a toe deformity where the toe points downward and then the second joint rubs against the top of your shoe. Extreme hammertoe has to be treated with surgery and can be very painful.
Since wearing high heels leans your body forward, the weight of your body shifts to the balls of your feet. It’s as if you are walking on a ramp all day long. The height of the shoe’s heel will determine how much weight is shifted to your forefoot. As the weight and pressure increases on the forefoot, and the muscles in the rest of your body work to keep your balance, you are stressing your feet in a way they are not designed to cope with. To compensate you tend to arch your back, which then changes your posture again and causes more muscle fatigue. At this point you might feel like sitting down, taking off those heels, and rubbing your feet.
Are Heels Bad?
As stated above, most of the issues with high heels come from habitual wear. Wearing high heels for one special event is not likely to cause major issues, though it may feel uncomfortable. However, if you have decided to wear high heels on a daily basis, there are some measures you can take to reduce or at least prolong the bad effects. Stretching can help alleviate the muscle tension and reduce muscle cramping. Spending the money on high quality high heels with decent insoles that offset some of the poor weight distribution or adding after-market shoes insoles made for this purpose can help as well. Of course, choosing heels that are not extremely high changes how much they will affect you and, as stated before, making sure your shoes have a roomy toe box can save you some pain. In the end, it’s your choice what you wear but remember, you only get one body, so treat it well!