Just how bad are high heels for you?

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High heels. They look great and can make your legs and figure look like a million bucks – but they can also hurt your feet and even impact your health. There is a time and place for wearing them but everyday use will weaken your core because of the way they misalign your skeleton and change your posture. Your body will try to compensate for these issues by creating bunions, corns, causing nerve damage (neuropathy), or even change the way you walk.

High Heels Are Bad For Your HealthRegular use of high heels is, unfortunately, one of the best ways to tear down and weaken your functional core. Your body compensates for the heel lift by changing your posture. Without postural compensation, a 2 inch heel could force your body into as much as a 22.5° angle, a 4 inch heel can increase the angle to 45°and a 6 inch heel could force you into an unsustainable 67.5° degree angle. As the height of the heel increases, the stress on the kinetic chain (the skeletal chain of your feet/ankles, knees, hips, sacroiliac joint and spine) increases to maintain an upright position and allow you to look straight ahead instead of looking at the ground. Heels shorten the calf muscles and as these muscles shorten they will pull the knee into hyperextension.

Looking at the drawing below, you can see that there are 3 basic postural compensations that women resort to when wearing heels:

Do High Heels Affect My Posture?

Knees flexed (bent) and pelvis hyper extended (booty up in the air like Donald Duck).
Knees flexed (bent) and tail bone tucked under creating a flat lower back (looks like the Pink Panther in heels).
Hyper extended knees with exaggerated curves of both the lumbar and thoracic spine.
The anterior pelvic tilt associated with the Donald Duck (numbers 1 and 3) posture disrupts the normal longitudinal tension between the abdominal and the low back muscles. The lower abdominals are put into a stretch and the low back muscles are held in a position of constant tension. This will eventually weaken the abdominals, low back muscles and pelvic floor. This may lead to poor stabilization of the pelvis, sacroiliac dysfunction and problems with leg alignment and gait.

The pelvic tilt associated with Pink Panther (number 2) posture lengthens the low back muscles and reduces the normal lumbar curve. Constantly tucking your tail bone under the pelvis fatigues the low back muscles and is often accompanied with pelvic floor weakness. Unconsciously you may be habitually tightening the gluteus maximus and pelvic floor muscles which will not only weaken them but can destabilize the pelvis. With this posture, many lack abdominal tone and may chronically try to hold their abs in or let them all hang out. Either way, the deep abdominal core musculature needs help!

To make matters worse, cramming your feet into pointed shoes exacerbates musculoskeletal alignment issues. As your big toe migrates away from its
normal functional position (due to the squeeze) your centre of gravity is changed and your body will do everything it can to restore the centre of
gravity to its proper location. The development of bunions and corns is a very common by-product of the body’s ability to restore proper centre of
gravity and balance.

High heels also restrict proper gait mechanics and lower body muscular recruitment. Walking in high heels restricts the extension of the leg which in turn shortens the stride and does not allow the legs to generate maximum locomotive power. Walking keeps you healthy. Walking in heels does not.

Your health and the stabilization of your body starts from the ground up. If you want to improve your health reduce the amount of time in high heels. I would never get rid of them altogether, but here a few items to consider with regard to high heels.

Purchase a few good supportive flats to do your running around in and then change into the heels for the short term
Choose shoes with a wide toe bed to accommodate your toes
Raise the hemline on your skirt to give the illusion of longer legs to compensate for lower heels or flats
Please give us a call at 519-716-0578 or email us at info@bodyinnovations.org if you’d like to learn more about repairing the damage caused by your high heels or to learn more about the many scientifically proven ways to Move Better and Feel Healthier.

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