Ever wondered why that pair of pretty heels causes you nothing but pain? Dr Nathanael Bogedain, Chiropractor at ProBack, has the answers!
Whether you wear heels regularly or save them for a night out or special occasion, there are some things you need to know about why your prettiest pair of heels can cause you a world of pain.
In the same way that overusing a muscle leads to injury, if you wear high heels often, Dr Bogedain says they can cause all sorts of painful snags.
So here are his top ten reasons to wear flat shoes…
- Your centre of gravity changes
When you wear heels, you bear more weight on the front part of your foot which pushes the body’s centre of gravity forward. This in turn shifts your head forward, which fires up the muscles in your spine for support. But because your spinal muscles aren’t used to being in this position, they get fatigued – and this is why you feel back pain.
- Your pain receptors are increased
As your spinal muscles work over-time to compensate for this shift in gravity, lactic acid starts to accumulate, which changes the histology of the muscle fibres, making them hard and forming scar tissue. It’s possible for pain receptors to get stuck in scar tissue and when this happens they send pain signals to the brain at an amplified rate. It has been found that the pain signal will be sent to the brain 1000 faster, and obviously the last thing anybody wants is to increase pain signals to the brain.
- The soft tissue on your foot can wear away
Overuse of high heels can result in the fat pad on bottom of the foot thinning down over time. Without this natural cushion, you can experience metatarsalgia which is when you feel more general pain under the foot.
- The position of your spine can change
Wearing heels can have a detrimental effect on the position of the spine. In addition to the position of the head moving forward, the thoracic spine, which is the middle back, shifts backward as a lower back extension is created. The curves of the spine are responsible for about 80% of the shock absorption and so without proper curves, the spine and discs bear more load and wear faster.
- It can be harder to breathe!
When the head is pushed into a forward position from wearing high heels, it becomes harder for a person to breath. In fact, if the head is positioned only one inch further forward than usual, breathing can become up to 20% more difficult! And when the rib cage presses on the heart due to this change in breathing, it becomes harder for blood to be pumped through the body, creating an entirely new set of problems.
- Your calves become overworked
The calf muscles are relaxed when your feet are flat, but to maintain balance when wearing high heels, they must tense up. Over time, this leads to the calves getting fatigued and strained which can cause them to cramp and bulge.
- The appearance of your legs and feet are affected
Apart from your calves bulging, when you wear heels, your ankles are forced to bend forward which affects circulation to the lower limbs of your body. This can make existing spider veins worse, as well as cause new ones. Heels can also give you crooked feet! When your toes are pressed forward, they experience pressure which can lead to them bending in a permanent downward position, causing ‘hammer toes’. They can also cause bunions, a small swollen bony bump that forms on the side of the big toe, as well as ingrown toenails!
- They put stress on your knees
If you wear heels frequently it could cause stress on the inner parts of your knees, which could eventually lead to osteoarthritis. Just like your feet, your knees are designed to absorb shock, but wearing heels affects this. Knees are made to handle rather a lot of pressure, however wearing high heels too regularly is very bad for them.
- Heels can lead to tendonitis
If you wear heels often, your ankles and other tendons surrounding the foot will get strained which can lead to tendonitis. When your foot is elevated, and the weight shifts forward, the Achilles tendon is relieved of tension and therefore shortens over time. So, if you’ve worn heels for many years, you may find wearing flat shoes uncomfortable – this is because your tendons have become tight over time.
10. They cause fatigue
Your body exerts more energy when you wear heels than it would in a pair of flat shoes and this could lead to a level of physical fatigue. Because heels put your body in an unnatural position, your feet, calves, knees, hips and lower back all work harder to move you forward, which, aside from causing potential injuries, makes you feel tired sooner.