High heels can cause damage to your spine, legs and feet
According to a poll carried out by the Spine Health Institute in Florida, 77 per cent of women wear high-heeled shoes on special occasions, 31 per cent wear high heels to work, 50 per cent to parties and dinners, and 33 per cent wear them when they go dancing.
Women find high heels hard to resist: pointy pumps, sleek stilettoes, and trendy platform shoes can complement a woman’s wardrobe, making her look slimmer and taller, more confident and definitely more stylish. However, wearing them can come at a price, more so where it concerns your health, says Dr. Emad Aziz Tawfik, Specialist Orthopedic Surgeon, Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery.
Studies have shown that these towering shoes can be costly in more ways than one, taking their toll on your spine, hips, knees, ankles and feet, while affecting your posture and walk. “Heels are not recommended as they force your foot forward, changing the position of your body so your weight isn’t evenly distributed over the spine. This can trigger pain from your knees all the way up to your back. Also, in order to maintain balance, the calf, hip and back muscles become tense, causing muscle fatigue and strain.” says Dr Tawfik.
Wearing heels can cause strain in the thighs and hip flexors which forces an increased curve in the spine, and this increased curvature of the spine (also called lordosis) can cause back pain. Wearing heels over a period of time is also linked to conditions such as foraminal stenosis, which is a spinal nerve condition that can occur when anatomical abnormalities block or reduce space in one or more foramina. This condition can cause cramps, muscle spasms, numbness, tingling and pain. “The change in the curvature of the spine also puts pressure on nerves in the back and can cause sciatica, a condition where nerves become trapped, triggering pain and numbness as far down as the feet,” says Dr. Tawfik.
To avoid these and other problems that develop over time, Dr. Tawfik recommends that you avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time. Try and limit the heels to less than two inches whenever possible. Avoid wearing pointy-toed shoes, and use insoles to keep the feet from slipping. It’s important to buy the right shape and size of shoes; buy shoes that give your toes enough room to wiggle.
You should also alternate your shoe choice throughout the day or from one day to the next. Wear more comfortable shoes, such as athletic or walking shoes for commuting to and from work.
Wearing shoes that allow your body to move naturally during walking will allow your feet, legs, hips and back to stretch. Finally, stretch your legs before and after you wear your shoes. This will help keep the muscles supple and protect them from fatigue and stiffness.
Courtesy of Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Dubai
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