Ladies, I completely agree that it is your very own prerogative to own and wear a gorgeous pair of heels. On that special occasion, that girly night out or just because they’re beautiful! However…it doesn’t have the best effect on your body, including your back, feet and knees. When I perform gait analysis and examine the way my patients walk, run and move, their feet tell me a lot! Let me tell you why…
Ever had that night out and after a few hours your Beyonce-style dancing turns into an achy aerobic class? Ever wake up the next morning walking around like a cave-woman? Blisters? Achy heels? Achy back?
Here’s how your favourite heels affect different parts of your body, and some reasons to make you put your foot down on wearing wisely.
Starting with your Feet!
Primarily weight-distributing and spring-loaders, they add shock absorbance to your body by cushioning and protecting your body from high and strong pressure. In a pair of your favourite 4-inchers, your body’s wonderfully designed feet are compromised, as you place a great deal of your weight onto the balls of your feet and the tiny, delicate bones. There’s a much bigger and more damaging impact from high heels and they increase 30-40% of pressure onto the front of your foot.
When I examine my patients walk and look at their natural heel-to-toe transition, it becomes interrupted by the pressure and gravity changes going through their feet. So they’re no longer walking with a beautiful natural stride, but instead have an edgy and incoherent shuffle. This can cause so many problems in the foot including damage to the joints and nerves resulting in things such as bunions! Not comfortable and not pain-free!
Top Tip: After a night out, soak your feet in a tub of warm water filled with epsom salts for 15 minutes to increase lymphatic drainage & soothe the aches away or pre-freeze a bottle off water, when you’re home take it out and roll the middle of your foot over the bottle, this will relieve tension through the feet.
Moving onto your Ankles and Calves!
Ever noticed after a night out your feet swell up, your calves ache and sometimes even cramp? Well guess what, by wearing high heels it forces your ankles to stay in an upward, awkward and unnatural position. This not only restricts circulation in your lower extremity causing varicose veins and fluid retention, it also tightens your calf muscles by stiffening your Achilles tendon; which shortens your muscles and causes more cramps. So over time, your favourite pumps end up being the reason you develop chronic tightness and shortened muscles whereby even walking in flats become tender and painful too!
If this seems familiar to you, and you’ve been slipping your shoes off under the desk at work just to have that relieving “ahhh…” moment as you relax and stretch your feet, it’s because your heels are not healthy for you. Be wise with your footwear!
Top Tip: Stretch your calves regularly throughout the day and make circular motions with your foot to enhance overall joint/muscle fluidity and prevent retention. I always recommend dynamic stretches as the best way to maximise flexibility.
Working up towards your Knees!
Designed as a master pro shock absorber, the knee is transitional hinge joint and takes a lot of pressure between the feet/ankle and the hips! However, high heels can really add extra stress on the knees because of the added weight distribution going through the front. So not only can this predispose you to quicker wear and tear, but this essentially can lead to osteoarthritis, joint damage and other conditions.
Top Tip: Be wary of your posture and keep your knees relaxed, not locked.
Transitioning towards the Hips!
So most women want that long, lean, sexy stance, the one mastered by models and traditionally known by Marylyn Munroe! However, not all of those women know the utmost important and role of the hip joint is to stabilize, transition movement and mobility and provide a secure pelvis. High heels have a bad effect on your hips, as to avoid gravity from throwing you forward, you will be used to pushing your hips forward or staying in a flexed position, arching your back and pushing your chest out. This not only increases a lot of tightness through your leg muscles, it creates tension in your outer hip muscles and tendons, resulting in inflammation, chronic tightness and premature inflexibility and joint damage.
Top Tips: Ensure flexibility through your hips & ITB (Ilio-tibial-band), strengthen your glutei & hip rotator muscles with personalised and well-advised squats & lunges, alongside dynamic posterior/anterior leg stretches.
And if this hasn’t made you decide on a new shoe style, let’s move on to the Back!…
Getting an achy or sore back after a night out? Well here’s why – for you to be able to glide in your heels, your lumbar spine has to move in an extremely unnatural way as it adds stress and pressure to the joints, discs, muscles and ligaments: overall classified as not good! Your low back usually takes the brunt from your footwear, activities and lifestyle. Especially if you have wear abdominal tone and core strength, so your lumbar spine becomes much more vulnerable to stress and injuries.
Low back pain is a common and huge phenomena, which you can prevent by starting to make simple choices with better footwear. Alongside a better pair of flats and supportive footwear; some simple things that massively help are frequent stretches, remedies to improve circulation and only wearing high heels to events where you’re primarily sitting.
Top Tip: When you get home after a long night out and the morning after; on a firm but comfortable surface (yoga mat/carpet) lay flat on your back, bring both knees up to your chest and gently hold without pulling for 10 seconds. Release and repeat a few more times. This will gently release the stress in your back from remaining in an arched position, relax the muscles and rest the joints.
Remember a key motto, you’re health comes first. Your physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing is nurtured by the small choices you make and the habits you incorporate daily.
If you’d like any further information on the blog or tips provided please don’t hesitate to contact me or comment below, as all of the tips should be personalised, detailed specifically for you and comfortable to do.
Yours in good health! 🙂 xo