The wearing of high heels started in France when King Louis XIV decreed only nobility be allowed to wear them. European royalty started wearing them to make them look taller or larger than life.
Fast forward to today and it's very fashionable to wear heels.
They make the wearer
- Seem taller
- appear to have longer legs
- appear to have more toned calves
- able to squat deeper (sort of)
Here, we're going to explain how wearing heels affects your posture and the potential problems that can arise.
As the picture above shows, a 2-inch heel is the equivalent of you leaning forward 22.5 degrees. A 4-inch heel is the equivalent of a 45 degree lean forward (according to high fashion shoe websites anything over 3.5 inches is considered a high heel).
If you didn’t know already, it’s not possible to walk around whilst leaning forwards 45 degrees. Your body has to compensate to keep you upright and there are three common ways it does this.
Number one is an exaggerated knee bend with an increased Lumbar spine (low back) curve.
Number two is a flat Lumbar spine and a very forward head.
Number three is hyperextended knees and increased spinal curves.
For comparison, number 4 is what is normal.
All three compensations change the loading throughout every joint in your body. This means the muscles around the joints have to work harder to compensate for the faulty alignment and, over time, leads to degenerative joint disease.
With high heels, this will mostly likely show up in the big toe, knee, hip or spine.
To go along with these joint problems, high heeled shoes also tend to be very small around the toes which can lead to bunions and other foot related problems (explained more here).
When it comes to joint health and pain, high heels don’t make much sense. Combine that with the relief of taking high heels off at the end of the night (so I’m told) and that most nights out end up with high heels being carried rather than walked in, and it adds to the illogical popularity of them.
There’s even surveys that suggest only 12% of women prefer wearing heels in comparison with 59% preferring flat shoes.
Some interesting news is that 2016 was the first year that women bought more trainers than high heels in the UK. For the health of everyones feet, knees and backs, let’s hope this trend continues.
(For info on the best trainers to get, check out this blog).
Rather than this being a ‘you must stop doing this or else…’ article of doom and gloom, I’m going to offer a solution that fixes everyone’s issues. A solution that doesn’t lead to bunions or knee problems or back pain. A solution that still leaves you looking like your legs are longer and feeling just as glamorous…
Wear flat shoes and shorter skirts.