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How Do High Heels Affect Your Back?

High heels are a staple for many people’s wardrobes, serving as a high fashion item and a source of confidence for people of all heights. As much as high heels have grown in popularity over the years, did you know that high heels can actually have a negative impact on your spine health? Let’s take a look at a few of the detrimental effects that heels can have on your back and ways to prevent them from happening. 

How High Heels Affect Your Back 

If you’ve ever worn high heels before, you may be familiar with the aching throb in your feet by the end of the night. However, it’s not only your feet that are affected when you put your heels on. When your foot is placed at an angle, it puts your muscles, joints, and spinal cord out of alignment as well, leading to back, neck, and other types of pain. 

Wearing high heels can also significantly alter your natural walking gait. Studies have found that wearing heels can lead to increased plantar flexion, greater knee flexion, and lumbar lordosis. Lumbar lordosis occurs when the lumbar or lower spine flexes unnaturally inward, which can lead to considerable back pain and discomfort. Other back conditions that may develop as a result of chronic high heel use include:

  • Sciatica: a condition that causes pain, tingling, and numbness in the lower back and legs. It is caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the legs. 
  • Osteoarthritis: a common type of arthritis that affects the joints. It is a progressive disease that causes the cartilage in the joints to wear away, which can lead to pain, stiffness, and swelling.
  • Spinal cord compression: a condition that can occur when excess pressure is placed on the spinal cord, leading to tingling, numbness, and back pain. 
  • Pinched nerves: when a nerve becomes damaged or injured due to compression from surrounding structures. 
  • Scoliosis: a condition that causes sideways curvature of the spine.

Ways to Prevent Back Pain from Heels

If you don’t want to entirely cut out high heels from your wardrobe, don’t worry. There are several habits that you can incorporate into your life to prevent back pain from wearing heels. Here are a few ways to optimize your spine health: 

  • Stretch your calves, quads, and hamstrings before and after wearing heels
  • Avoid heels higher than two inches 
  • Bring a comfortable pair of shoes with you to take breaks from your heels
  • Select shoes with wide and chunky heels over stilettos 
  • Alternate between wearing flats and heels 
  • Consider buying heels with leather insoles, so your feet don’t slip when walking

Along with following these tips about how to properly wear heels, here are some other spine-friendly habits to incorporate into your life to alleviate and prevent back pain: 

  • Sleep on your back 
  • Practice yoga 
  • Maintain a healthy weight 
  • Stretch consistently 
  • Avoid refined sugars, processed foods, and red meat
  • Follow an anti-inflammatory diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, olives, avocados, and more
  • Strengthen your core
  • Improve your cardiovascular health 
  • Try pilates 

Get Pain Relief at The Spine Pro 

If you are experiencing back pain and the above suggestions haven’t helped you find relief, contact Dr. Hooman Melamed. The founder of The Spine Pro, Dr. Melamed, is a world-renowned surgeon who specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery. Dr. Melamed has been featured on programs such as Dr. Oz, The Doctors, Fox News, and multiple local TV channels for his remarkable expertise. If you need back treatment, don’t settle for anything less than the best.