Is wearing high heels bad for my back?
This is a common question I often get asked about, I have written this post as a recent study looked at the effects of high heels >10cm on the lower back.
The paper is called “The effect of walking in high- and low-heeled shoes on erector spinae activity and pelvis kinematics during gait” by Mika A, Olesky Ɫ, Marchewka A, Clark BC published in October 2012.
The conclusion they found was “wearing high-heeled footwear may have clinical consequences, including increasing general or muscular fatigue, creating swelling or limited movement, raising the possibility of cumulative strain, promoting fibrosis in the paraspinal musculature, altering joint loading profiles…this list could go on and all these factors could be both consequences and potential causes of LBP.” (LBP is short for ‘Lower Back Pain’ by the way).
As usual, like most research papers state, there is always more research required. However, as you can see this paper found good reason to suggest high heels >10cm as a cause of lower back pain.
My answer to the question is usually that the high heels may be a contributing factor, but not the sole reason, for your back pain. There are usually lots of individual reasons that all add up to the crescendo that is the back pain. Eliminating/treating each small reason, bit by bit, is the route to a healthy back. Maintaining a healthy back requires continuing exercises and stretches at home to combat the inevitable compensations your body has to make due to the activities of daily life and our hobbies.
If you are going to wear heels, I would recommend doing the exercises and stretches necessary to reverse the effects they cause. Some of which are stated within the above research paper. A good Chiropractor should be able to help you with these problems and any back pain you may have.