High Heel Alert!
High heels have become a modern necessity for ladies rather than just for fashion. It gives women a sense of elegance, of superiority and femininity. The history of high heels began a thousand years ago as status of wealth and superiority – in the 1700s, King Louis XIV was shown in a portrait to be wearing a pair of red heels! However, the saying “beauty does not come without a price” may well be true in this case as there are many health implications of wearing a pair of stilettos…
1) Postural Imbalances
Wearing of heels contributes to postural adaptations due to the changes in the location of the feet and the centre of gravity (CoG). Postural adaptations first happen with the elevation of the ankle which causes a forward displacement of the CoG generating postural imbalances, promoting adaptive postural adjustments for balance recovery and to maintain the upright posture.
2) Risk of Hallux Valgus (bunions)
Wearing heels results in a forward and middle shift of forces within the foot; forefoot forces increase, and the force concentration, stress, and loading rate at the first toe dramatically increase, while those over the fifth toe decrease. This has been linked to forefoot deformities such as hallux valgus (bunion).
3) Risk of Valgus Knees (knock knee appearance)
In knees, the use of high heels increases the forces on the articulation of the knee joint. Valgus knees are commonly seen among adolescents who wear high heels, more so in those who wear needle heels.
4) Lumbar Hyperlordosis (exaggerated curve of the lumbar spine)
The change in knee alignment induces the hips to rotate towards the side of the body and, hence, an increase in forward pelvic tilt. This causes a decrease in the flexibility of the spinal muscles and weakening of the abdominal muscles, which promotes the forward displacement of the Centre of Gravity and favours lumbar hyperlordosis.
5) Increase Risk of Sprain and Strain of the ankle joint
With literally no or little support from the base of the heel, the ankle structures are susceptible to injuries especially those who does not have a strong sense of balance.
To avoid occurrence of musculoskeletal symptoms and installation of permanent postural disorders, it is critical to perform an early evaluation of body posture, either by your Chiropractor or physiotherapist, to identify potential musculoskeletal adaptations and indicate appropriate corrective measures.