High heels may be pretty or spectacular to some but let’s look at what they do to your posture. First and the most obvious is that they point the toes causing constant contraction of the calves. This places the plantar fascia in a shortened state and causes the feet to become stiff and tight. Contraction of the calves places strain on the knees and weakens the shin muscles, predisposing one to shin splints.
Due to the changes in the foot position and tightening of the calves, the hip flexers and quads have to contract to keep the body’s center of gravity neutral. This pulls the lower back into extension or into anterior pelvic tilt, giving the illusion of full rear end. The new position of the lower back disrupts breathing, tightens the back muscles and weakens the glute muscles, predisposing one to lower back and hip pain.
With the buttocks pushed back and the pelvis tilted forward, the mid back has to round out for balance. The shoulders begin to round with the mid back and the head shifts forward realigning itself over the body. The neck muscles tighten predisposing one to shoulder and neck pain along with headaches.
All of these changes occur due to wearing high heels. The center of gravity is changed completely stressing not just the spine but many of the joints throughout the body. All of this occurs just because you wanted to wear those pretty little heels.
Counteracting the effects of wearing high heels is not as simple as taking them off. The effects they have on the body cause long term changes in posture and center of gravity. We suggest 5 activities to start the counteracting measures necessary for high heel wear.
1. Self Myofascial Release-Foam rolling or using a ball to release your own plantar fascia, calves, hip flexors, and thoracic spine can help lengthen the muscles and mobilize the joints that are most effected.
2. Activate Weakened Muscles-Glute, core and breathing exercises are essential in reversing the compensating factors that occur with high heel wear.
3. Increase Ankle/Foot Mobility-Your feet need to move to function correctly. Increasing mobility will increase the proper function of your feet.
4. Retrain Center of Gravity-Exercises like squats and hip hinging will help push your center of gravity backwards were it belongs.
5. Stop Wearing High Heels-The most important and most logical way to counteract the negative effects of wearing high heels.
See exercises by clicking here to get started.
Yours in health,
Dr. Justin Hildebrand