What your Chiropractor wants you to know about wearing heels
Wearing heels to work everyday can be an unavoidable fact of life in some jobs – but for those of you that have the choice between wearing flats or heels to work, you may wish to rethink choosing those sky-high shoes. Advice given by Dr Christian Allard, clinic director at Proback’s London City branch here, shows the shocking impact that wearing heels everyday can have in different ways on your body. So what effect do heels have on the body?
1. They can change your body’s centre of gravity
When you think about your foot position while wearing heels, you may notice the balls of your feet are required to bear most of the weight – a bit like if you would walk around tip-toeing. Usually the heel of your foot would be doing most of the heavy-lifting, so if this is carried forward it can shift your body’s centre of gravity. According to Dr Allard, ‘If the body’s centre of gravity is brought forward, it tends to create an anterior head carriage, meaning the head is held forward’. With the head being a heavy weight to bear, the muscles in our neck are simply not designed to be able to withstand a change like this: they become fatigued and start to produce lactic acid, which in turn can cause the muscles to harden and produce scar tissue.
2. Heels affect your pain receptors
Wearing heels can oftentimes be somewhat of a balancing act, this is a direct result of heels changing your centre of gravity but it also means that your joints have to work overtime to keep you upright. Pain receptors in your joints are stimulated when they’re placed under more pressure than normal, this doesn’t mean that every time you wear heels you will experience pain, but it does mean that you may experience amplified pain signals if an injury occurs and the signal needs to travel through scar tissue to reach the brain.
3. They can change the position of your spine
Heels can have a detrimental effect on the overall position or posture of your spine. They can alter the lower back into an extension, meaning that you may develop a deeper curve into your lumbar spine. This can move the thoracic spine backwards and move the head carriage forward. As Dr Allard points out, ‘The curves in the spine are responsible for about 80% of shock absorption in the body. Without these proper curves, the spine and discs will have to take some of the load and will wear faster’. With a spine or discs that wear faster, you may injure your back much easier and you may experience more chronic pain in your back further down the line.
4. Heels can make it harder for you to breathe
With the head carriage leaning more forward than naturally designed, believe it or not but this can make it much more difficult to breathe. ‘It has been established that if the head is positioned only one inch further forward, it is about 20% harder to breathe. Since the heart is a pump, as the rib cage presses on the heart, it is also harder for the heart to pump the blood’.