Back and neck pain. Spinal problems. Aching knees. Strained leg tendons. Injuries from a game of pickup football? Think again. All of these injuries can occur from wearing high heels. The problems caused by high heels go way beyond a pair of aching feet at the end of the day. Major back and spinal problems can occur as well.
"High heels put you up on your toes which pushes your center of gravity unnaturally forward," says Steven Raikin, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and the Director of Foot and Ankle Services at the Rothman Institute. "This creates a 'swayback' position where the pelvis tilts forward and the lower back arches excessively. The result is extra stress on the spine and back nerves."
While Dr. Raikin stops short of suggesting women never wear high heels, he does offer the following tips to prevent short- and long-term injury:
- Limit wearing high heels to special occasions.
- Avoid extremely high heels or stilettos. Choose a shorter, thicker heel to spread the body's weight more evenly.
- Wear soft insoles to reduce the impact on your knees.
- Make sure your shoes fit snuggly so the foot doesn't slide forward, putting even more pressure on the toes.
- Take time to stretch your legs, feet and back after removing your heels. Pull your toes up toward your knees so you stretch the calf back to a normal position.
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