High heels and back pain

back pain

These days, making a fashion statement often proves we are confident and in control. What we may not realise, is we may in-fact neglect our physical self in the process. In this case let’s discuss a woman’s best friend, high-heels.


– High heels draw your bodyweight forward onto the heads of your metatarsal bones. Your toes are continually extended and cannot contact the ground in the way they intend to. Eventually this may lead to corns, a dropped metatarsal arch and even pinching of the nerves between your toes.

– Your ankles continually plantarflex (the foot is pointed downward) and this prevents the heel initially contacting the floor. Your calves will be tight and this can lead to rupture of the Achilles tendon when unexpected strain is put on it, in sports or walking on uneven ground in bare feet. The ankle is in a very unstable position laterally (sideways) as the base of the high heel is often narrow and this can lead to sprained ankles.

– Your knees are slightly flexed, not extending at the point of weight bearing to transmit the body weight directly down through the leg bones (more likelihood of developing osteoarthritis) and not getting the required extension at the hip joint.

– The hip joints do not move through the range of movements needed for walking, so all the strain falls on a small area, which tends to wear out more quickly (osteoarthritis again!)

– The pelvis. High heels tend to exaggerate the position the pelvis is already in-tilted up or down, which in turn increases the lordosis (inward arch) in the lower back or makes the lower back too flat contributing to spasms of the back muscles, back pain and uneven wear on the discs and facet joints of the vertebrae. It is very difficult to find the optimum position for the pelvis in high heels.

– The rest of the spine has to compensate often by rounding the upper back (kyphosis) to rebalance the body and the head often pokes forward to correct the centre of gravity, creating neck pain.

– Your brain will be thoroughly confused. The normal walking pattern is to put alternative heels to the ground first. When your toes touch the ground first, the right and left hemispheres get the wrong messages and this upsets the communication between the two hemispheres.

– Your skeleton cannot support you efficiently so your muscles will struggle to hold you up (often causing pain) let alone being free to allow to you do all the other things you do.

Go out and buy some smart, supple low heeled shoes and give your body a chance to work properly, book yourself a massage to fix your tightened muscles. Your body will thank you for it


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11 replies
  1. momochii
    momochii says:

    Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I have discovered so far.

  2. danni
    danni says:

    I found this very interesting, I will try to make some changes, your advise should help me a lot. thank you!

  3. Elsie P. Humphrey
    Elsie P. Humphrey says:

    really . . . i can use elliptical for well over an hour with no problem. what the hades am i doing wrong not to get my toes going numb????? seriously you may wish to consult a personal trainer at the gym and pose your question if not satisfied with responses here. possibly your shoes or how you are positioning your feet on the pedals or the need to reverse course every so often.

  4. Bertha W. Garrison
    Bertha W. Garrison says:

    Applications. During a posture of alert readiness, the center of gravity is shifted toward the anticipated direction of movement. There is a slight head and plantar flexion that causes equilibrium instability to facilitate this shift. Then arm and leg positions are adjusted to the action which is to follow. The baseball infielder leans forward and rises on his toes as the ball is pitched. The base runner taking a lead off a base will also lean toward the next base and rise on his toes as the ball is pitched. The football quarterback crouches with arms forward and heels and hands together in a position of readiness to catch the ball. Somersaults are started forward and backward by a throw of the head. In each instance, the mechanical equilibrium of the body is disturbed and movement is started. Proprioceptive Mechanisms. Postures of alert readiness should not be held motionless for a long period because proprioceptive sensations which govern position sense and the relationship of body parts will be diminished and must be reestablished before accurate movement can be achieved. It is for this reason that the golfer and batter waggle their club while adjusting position. Stability vs Balance. Postures of alert readiness are often superimposed on postures adapting to mechanical forces. Most movements involve lateral shifts of weight which disturb balance and require the application of opposing forces to regain balance. Postural shifts of the body’s center of gravity in the vertical direction alter stability but not balance. An ice skater racing forward in the straightaway leans forward to maintain equilibrium between gravitational force and the driving action of the legs. If the torso is held erect, the driving action of the legs should soon topple the skater backward. When skating around a curve at high speed, the skater must lean forward to compensate for the driving action of his legs and lean toward the inside of the curve to counteract centrifugal forces.

  5. Katy Wynn
    Katy Wynn says:

    Let’s relax your back. If you have stenosis and/or generalized muscle conditions, the action will not likely decrease your pain. Or else, locate a hard surface, such as your kitchen table or countertops. Make certain you can level your weight at the height of your table and/or countertop. Move your own feet so they are usually slightly apart, and place the palms of the hands on the hard surface, facing backwards. Right now, lean to the front while slowly lifting your heels off the ground. Hold your position up to 15 counts, slowly release, and wait a couple of minutes before leaning toward a proper sacroiliac joint.

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