How High Heels Can Impact Your Spine

Category: Spine | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: March 28, 2016

high heels and back pain

High heels may be the most fashionable footwear on the market, but they can also do a number on your back. We’re not here to tell you never to wear heels, but we want to explain what heels can do to your spine so you’ll consider wearing them in moderation. So without further ado, here’s a closer look at how high heels affect your spine.

Heels and Your Spine

Most people choose a shoe based on how it will impact their outward appearance, but oftentimes they give little thought to how it will affect the inside of their body. The simple fact is that high heels thrust your spine out of alignment and put you at risk for developing a variety of different spinal conditions. Excessively wearing heels can lead to:

  • Uneven wear and tear on your vertebral discs, joints and back ligaments.
  • Pain in your hips, as heels thrust your hips forward and out of natural alignment.
  • Hyperlordotic posture or swayback of the spine.
  • Spondylolisthesis (slippage of one vertebrae over the other).
  • Forminal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal due to anatomical abnormalities, aka excess stress).

These problems can develop because heels cause a shift in the natural alignment of your spine. The normal S-curve of the spine acts as a natural shock absorber for all sorts of areas of your body, from your hips and knees to your feet and toes. When you wear high heels, your body is thrust forward, decreasing the forward curve of your lower back. This means your spine has to distribute greater forces to other areas of your body.

Preventing High Heel Spine Pain

Again, we’re not saying to get rid of all your heels, but be smart about when and where you wear them, because heels inherently push your spine into an unnatural state. Consider following these tips to keep your spine healthy if you need to wear heels.

  • Opt For a Smaller Heel – The higher the heel, the greater the pressure on your feet, and gait issues can affect your spine health.
  • Pack Flats – Throw a pair of flats in your purse or car so you can swap out shoes later in the night.
  • Give Your Spine a Break – If you’ve been on your feet for a while or you begin to develop back pain, take a seat and let your spine rest in a natural state.

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