High heels have been a symbol of style and sophistication for decades. However, while they may enhance our appearance and alter our gait, it’s important to understand that regularly wearing this common fashion accessory can have detrimental effects on our overall health and well-being.
In this blog post, we will delve into the reasons why wearing heels is bad for your feet and bad for your body. So, before you slip into those stylish stilettos, take a moment to consider the potential consequences.
1. Foot and Ankle Pain
An elevated heel causes the weight of the body to be unevenly distributed, resulting in sharp pain in your toes, soles, or arch. This can lead to medical conditions such as metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, and even stress fractures.
2. Reduced Stability and Balance
The most obvious change that happens in the body when you wear high heels is that your natural balance and stability are shifted forward. This places increased pressure on the toes and the balls of the feet, making it challenging to maintain proper balance. As a result, you become more prone to falls, sprains, and twisted ankles.
3. Posture Problems
While a pair of designer heels can add glamour to your wardrobe, their design forces your body into an unnatural posture. The elevated heel tilts your pelvis forward, leading to a more pronounced arch in the lower back, and causing an awkward swayback posture. This misalignment can lead to various musculoskeletal issues such as lower back pain, spinal misalignment, and muscle imbalances.
4. Increased Risk of Osteoarthritis
Findings indicate that consistently wearing high heels leads to an increased risk of developing osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease. The added pressure on the knees due to the altered posture in heels can accelerate the wear and tear of the joint cartilage. Over time, this can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced joint mobility.
5. Shortened Calf Muscles
The unnatural position of the foot, the strain on the calf muscles, blood vessels and back to adapt to the shortened position can lead to Achilles tendon tightness and even calf muscle spasms.
6. Nerve Compression
The tight fit and increased pressure in high heels can compress nerves in the feet, leading to tingling, numbness, and even nerve damage. Prolonged nerve compression can have long-lasting effects on your foot health and overall comfort. Conditions like Morton’s neuroma, characterized by thickened nerves and intense foot pain, are commonly associated with wearing heels.
7. Varicose Veins and Swelling
Physios and other healthcare professionals often state that the lack of proper support and the restriction of blood flow in high heels can contribute to the development of varicose veins. The elevated heel position hampers the natural circulation of blood, leading to pooling in the lower legs and feet. This can result in swollen ankles, spider veins, and the appearance of bulging varicose veins.
8. Lower Back Pain
The unnatural curvature of the leg while wearing high heels increases stress on the lower back, and can contribute to conditions like herniated discs. This is because the exaggerated arch in the lower back puts pressure on the lower back—the lumbar spine—which has to work harder than usual to keep your body upright.
9. Spinal Misalignment
Another adverse effect of wearing heels all the time is that it disrupts the natural curvature of the spine. This misalignment can affect the entire spinal column, leading to issues such as kyphosis (hunchback) or lordosis (swayback).
10. Muscle Imbalances
Wearing heels regularly can create muscle imbalances in the back and core muscles. The muscles in the lower back and abdomen may become weak and elongated, while the muscles in the hips and buttocks may become tight and shortened. These imbalances can further exacerbate back pain.
11. Increased Risk of Disc Degeneration
The excessive pressure on the lumbar discs due to high heels can accelerate disc degeneration. This can result in disc bulges, herniations, and chronic pain.
12. Restricted Spinal Movement
High heels limit the natural range of motion of the spine, particularly in the lumbar and thoracic regions. This restricted movement can affect the flexibility and functionality of the spine, leading to stiffness and decreased mobility.
13. Increased Risk of Spondylolisthesis
Some studies have suggested a link between high heel wear and spondylolisthesis, a condition where one vertebra slips forward or backwards in relation to an adjacent vertebra. Wearing heels can aggravate this condition by further destabilizing the spine and increasing the risk of vertebral slippage.
While high heels may be fashionable, it’s important to recognize that they can affect their wearers’ well-being. From lower back pain and spinal misalignment to increased risk of disc degeneration and restricted movement, the consequences of wearing heels regularly should not be underestimated. Given the evidence that more frequent wear is detrimental for women’s health, prioritizing footwear that provides proper support, rather than elegance, is crucial for maintaining a healthy spine and overall well-being.