Women like high heels because they make them taller, give a slender appearance to the wearer and also make their legs look thin and shapely. However, those women suffering from lower back pain should not wear high heels as it can worsen their condition.
Can High Heels Cause Back Pain?
The answer is that there may be a cause and effect relationship. Wearing high heels can either be a contributing or aggravating factor. However, not every woman who wears high heels suffers from back pain and not every woman with lower back pain wears high heels.
Why High Heels May Cause Back Pain?
Our spine consists of 30 small bones stacked in a column. It curves in a gentle S-slope which enables nerves and blood to run through it smoothly and to support your entire body evenly. Elevated heels cause back pain as it makes the lower back of the wearer accentuate its lordosis (forward curve).
This will predispose the wearer to facet joint stress and misalignment hence leading to facet syndrome and its attendant pain. This increased lordosis often referred to as hyperlordosis narrows the opening between the vertebrae where the nerve root exits hence leading to compression of the nerve roots within that opening (neuro-foraminal compression).
It may also cause additional disc stress which leads to further disc bulging and sciatica due to nerve root compression. Wearing high heels can also lead to:
- Damaged leg tendons
- Ingrown toenails
- Muscle spasms
- Sciatica or pinched nerves
- Knee osteoarthritis
The wearing away of the rubbery cushions between each and every bone as we age can also lead to back pain. Joints will become less flexible and stiffer, leading to pain that radiates to your arms and legs. Age will also make your spinal bones brittle as it leads to a breakdown in the bone structure.
Useful Tips for High-Heeled Life
Most of the people suffering from back pain have bones that develop tiny cracks. Other things that can damage our spine include accidents and certain medical conditions. However, you don’t have to give up high heels to avoid back pain.
Whether your high heels are the cause of back pain or not, the tips below will help you have a comfortable and risk-free high heeled life:
- Wearing high heels that are 3 inches or less are the safest option as they will help prevent compounded stress on your hips and back
- Stretch your legs before and after wearing heels
- Actively maintain a good posture
- Wear the right shoe size
- Switch up your shoe choice. Go from 3-2-inch heels, and then flats. You can also carry your heels in a bag and put them on when the major walking is done. This will give your feet a break whenever possible.
- Buy shoes in late afternoon when your feet are at their largest
- Choose the best shoes. Try for the comfort compromise. Even though stiletto heels are fashionable, they have stiff soles. Wedge heels are easier to walk in as they have softer or cushioned soles. It is good to choose heels that have a square or rounded toe instead of pointy toes.
- Wear your highest heels for short periods of about 3-4 hours
- Prevent slippage by choosing shoes with leather in soles
- Listen to your body by taking off high heels at the slightest twinge of pain
Listen to Your Body
The best thing to do when you are unsure high heels can cause back pain in your case is to listen to your body. If the pain is increased with high heel use or you feel more back pain a day after wearing high heels, then it would be a good idea to avoid wearing high heeled shoes.
If your lower back pain is aggravated by high heels, wear a negative heel shoe or earth shoe as a possible remedy. Whether your back pain is caused by high heels or not, you need to know that high heels can cause lower back pain as it puts your back in an abnormal posture and alignment.
Even if you are wearing heels but not suffering from lower back pain, there are high chances that wearing high heels for a long period will cause or contribute to the development of one. Just decide for yourself if wearing high heels is really worth it.
How to Walk in High Heels Correctly?
When trying to solve the question linking heel height to back pain, it is important to ask ourselves whether or not women know how to walk properly in high heels. A woman, for example, may be experiencing back pain because she does not know how to walk in high heels properly.
She should ask herself if “this is a trapped nerve feeling?” and if this is what is causing feet aches and pain, sciatica leg pain, ankle weakness, and pain or lower back pain. It is a good idea to listen to tips from other women who want others to walk comfortably and confidently in high heels. Here are some of those tips:
- Slightly relax your knees and hips to help you glide
- Maintain good posture by pushing your chest up, stomach in and bum out slightly like core muscle activation
- Put your feet closer together and avoid walking with a wide stance like with trainers or when wearing gym shoes
- Ensure that you use the ball of your foot in order to avoid heel strikes and toes first
The tips above will help those who want to wear heels reduce the negative effects associated with wearing high heels without avoiding them altogether. This is why it is important to consider these tips when wearing high heels.