The Impact of Wearing High Heels

Many women wear high heels to work every day. But do you know the affects high heels can have on your body? Chiropractor Kris Dugger of Ascension Chiropractic shares some of the ways that wearing high heels can impact our feet, our legs, and our back.


Effects of high heels on the foot
There are 26 bones and 33 joints that comprise the anatomical foot. Wearing high heels is especially stressful on the bones and joints of the foot because the height of the heels put the feet in an un-natural position. The foot is then sometimes forced into a narrow toe-box, compounding the problem. A natural response from the body trying to protect the feet can include corns or calluses. Other possible problems that compression and elevation have on the feet, while wearing heels, are bunions and hammer toe.

Effects of high heels on the leg
By wearing high heels, the thigh muscles are forced to work harder. As a result, extra strain is placed on the knee joint and tendon that runs from the knee cap to the thigh bone. In addition to the stress on the thigh muscles, shortened calf and hamstring muscles may also present and can cause painful cramping.

Effects of high heels on the low back
The normal concave(C) shape of the low back acts as a shock absorber, reducing stress on the vertebrae. Wearing high heels causes lumbar (low-back) spine flattening and a posterior (backward) displacement of the head. High heel shoes cause you to lean forward and the body’s response to that is to decrease the forward curve of your lower back. Poor alignment may lead to muscle overuse and back pain.

For women who just “have” to wear high heels (and have tons of shoes in their closet to prove it!) what are some tips for wearing them safely and comfortably?

  • Get the best-fitting high heel possible
  • Add cushion to the shoes in the form of a full shoe insert, or silicone metatarsal pads for shock absorption at the balls of the feet
  • Wear a thicker heel for stability

Kristopher Dugger, D.C.
Ascension Chiropractic
Scottsdale, Arizona

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