Reduce the Negative Impacts of Heels on the Body

The age old question, How am I suppose to make this outfit look cute without heels? As a chiropractor, I’d say "It doesn’t matter. You need to get rid of all your heels because our future wellbeing is much more important, and you’ll thank me later. However…As a women living in the 21st century, I have say... I can’t live without my heels either!

For women, wearing heels are an important part of our current fashion and culture. When you wear heels, it gives you a kind of presence, and people take notice. It empowers you and gives you confidence. Not to mention, it makes your legs look longer and gives your walk some swagger. 

Understanding this, I know heels aren’t going away from our culture (or our closets), any time soon. So, telling my patients not to wear heels is neither helpful nor practical.

But before I give you the helpful and practical tips you're dying to learn, it is really important that you understand what negative impact heels can have on your joints, posture and spine.

Wearing heels can lead to:

  • Improper walking mechanics - Which can lead to all kinds of issues, such as ankle, knee, hip and low back pain. After some time, this can progress to early onset of arthritis and degeneration in these joints. The pain alone could put you out of heel game for life. As a chiropractor, there are ways I can restore proper walking mechanics and function for my patients, however, degeneration and arthritis can not be reversed. 

  • Bunions -  Bunions can be painful and can not be reversed. You permanently damage one of the joints in the big toe. The only way to restore the toe to proper position is with surgery, however, you lose mobility in your toe which affects your ability to walk in a normal patttern.  Bunions can lead to improper mechanics and foot neuromas, which, honestly, just suck. 

  • Morton’s Neuroma - This is extremely painful. When wearing heels, all your body weight gets transferred to the balls of your feet. This area is not meant to carry all that pressure, and eventually, it will start to compress the nerves in this area. Neuromas can be treated with shots and other therapies but its a difficult and painful process. 

  • Increased chance of injury - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tripped, fallen, twisted my ankle and flat out “ate it”, while wearing heels. I’m sure you have the same story, or know a girlfriend who does. 

They say “Beauty is Pain” but hopefully the following tips will help you find more of a balance, so  you can decrease the the pain and increase the beauty. 

Here are 6 things you can do to reduce the negative impact of wearing heels:

1) Understand that you don’t need to wear heels ALL the time. When you’re running errands, going to the store or filling up gas, just leave the heels at home. Wear some appropriate, like tennis shoes, or sneakers. Lucky for us, they are all the fad right now, so take advantage of it.

2) Limit your time in heels - For the most part, women need to wear heels for work, going out with friends, or for a night out on the town. But even then, you can limit the amount of time you’re actually in your heels. For example, when going to work, you can wear work flats out the door, while driving and even walking from the car to your desk. At your desk, you can change into your heels. I don’t wear heels to work but I do this when I go out. You’ll be surprised to find that by avoiding heels for just a small amount of time will make a huge difference. Everyone’s job and schedules are different, so think about how you can apply this tip to your day to day. 

3) Choose your heel hight wisely- This is a big one. You don’t need to wear 4inch heels for every occasion. And again, lucky for us, the latest fashion trends provide us with a variety of shoes with different heel heights. You can get 1, 2, 3 inch heels and  even flats for every occasions. So make sure you have a variety of shoes in your closet, with varying heel heights, for all occasions. Yes, I am giving you permission to go buy more shoes. woo hoo. 

4) Wear wider heels - Again, another amazing trend women need to take advantage of. The rule: the wider the heel, the better distribution of weight and balance. You can get away with not having a stiletto heel at all in your closet right now, but keep a few just in case.  Make sure to have some block heels, wedges and other wider heel styles in your closet. 

5) Pick the right size shoes The worst thing that could happen, is that you find the perfect pair of heels and they don't have you're size. Its maddening! But I’m here to tell you, as your chiropractor and your friend, don’t do it. Don’t buy shoes that are too small or too big - it will seriously cripple you. Another thing to consider, is the design/style of the shoe. You may need to go a half-size or full size higher for the shoe to fit you correctly. This mostly happens with pointed toe shoes. This style is the worst for your toes and feet, so make sure you wear the right size, and limit your time in them. 

6) Use padded inserts - When needed, add them into your heels. Especially if the shoe has zero padding at the balls of the feet. Again, you may need to go a size higher so the inserts and your foot fit the shoe properly. Another place padding may be needed, is at the back of shoe, so it doesn’t scrap your achilles tendon. Most women will put on a bandage but then you run the risk of ruining the look of the shoe and your outfit. 

I hope these few tips help to enhance your love affair with heels and keep you in the heel game for many years to come. 

 


Published Oct. 11th, 2019

Written by Dr. Roshani Desai, D.C.

Edited by Melanie Wyatt

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