High Heels – A Fashion Statement or Strain on the Back?

According to a long-held belief high heels cause back pain. The extensiveness of this thought has made it a fact to believe for many people. This simply doesn’t mean it is true.

The foundation of the theory of high heels causing back pain lies on the thought that wearing them causes a strain in the thighs and hip flexors. This puts a force on the curve in the spine. Thus, extended curvature of the spine causes the back pain. Having never worn high heels this can’t be true for many ladies around. There are reports of some patients with back pain and nerves that were pinched explaining specifically wearing high heels helped decrease the pain. There was significantly less pain reported by patients. For finding out the truth within controversies it is sometimes a good practice to turn out to medical literature.

Reviewing the literature we come to know that there are several studies that attempted to scientifically find out the relation between high heels and back pain. One of the most valuable pieces of literature regarding back pain is in the Chiropractic Medicine Journal. This article gives insights and analysis of relationships between spine and heels. The conclusion of the article doesn’t provide any proof to support the theory that wearing high heels becomes a cause in back pain or extending of spines’ curvature. But it proposes wearing high heels and back pain both are common. This makes it quite difficult to establish a definite relationship between them.

High Heels can worsen an Underlying Spinal Condition:

While the theory may be unclear that high heels can be a culprit in causing back pain. It can worsen an underlying spinal condition. A long day of walking on high heels will exacerbate the pain due to increased stress. Particularly for patients who have a condition like arthritis or muscular strain. Whole body mechanics get affected due to a foot or leg fatigue following pain. That can be a result of wearing such shoes.

A handful of patients with pinched nerves reported feeling much comfortable on high heels. This could possibly be due to an indirect decompression on the spine due to a posture altered by the shoes. Research from Poland revealed having studied 31 healthy young woman ages 22-27. They were made to wear heels ranging 1.5 inches to 4-inches. Electromyographic (EMG) tests were used to determine muscle activities regarding back. Areas were focused consisting of low back, upper thigh, and butt regions. Muscles were relaxed and flexed. Tiny electrodes were then inserted into the muscles to track any slightest muscle activity. Delayed or abnormal muscle activity was observed to be a sign of musculoskeletal dysfunction.

The research revealed the subjects wearing 1.5 inches heels didn’t significantly observe alter muscle activity. While subjects wearing 4inches heals were observed to alter such muscle activity.

Higher heels were seen to activate lumbar erector spinal muscles earlier than normal during the flexion. Later were activated the maximus muscles. The researchers concluded coordination patterns such as trunk and hip extensor muscles are altered by high heels.

These studies suggest that the abnormal muscle activity could be the one to blame for causing back pain from high heels rather than the decreased lumbar lordosis. Same polish studied supported the fact that high heels could largely result in abnormal spine loading patterns.

A night out wearing high heels would not be that risky but a routine of sporting the 4-inch stilettos might well cause musculoskeletal injuries.

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It is Safe to Say High Heels don’t initiate Back Pain:

In conclusion, anything has not been cleared up here but it would be safe to say that there is no such evidence that wearing high heels could possibly cause back pain. All that being said, it recommends wearing shoes that offer good arch support and cushioning. Increased stress on the spine would be limited if you have a preexisting back condition.

Ensuring a healthy back won’t send a step back to your style statement. Be mindful about your choices. By developing solid habits and cutting off unhealthy routines, you’ll be able to look great and feel great too.

Here are some tips for wearing High Heels:

  • Limit the wearing duration of the shoes.
  • Don’t opt heels more than 2” high
  • Pointy toes should be avoided.
  • Use shoes built with leather insoles. This will prevent your foot doesn’t slide.
  • Support your arches with arch inserts. Orthotics can also be used.
  • Vary your footwear. This will keep you from not wearing high heels every day.
  • Gradual or lower slopes are advised, Platforms or wedges are encouraged instead of stilettos
  • Thicker heels are the much better option than spiky heels
  • Don’t forget to Stretch and strengthen the overworked muscles.
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