The Southeastern Spine Institute

The latest fashions may be your latest cause of back pain.

With so many ways to hurt your back, many women would be surprised to learn that the main cause of back pain is their shoes. You would think that diet, exercise, or posture would be more significant than footwear. The way you turn, sit, and lift all contribute to your back health, but the height of your shoes may be the worst culprit of all.

Yes, those four-inch stilettos play a significant role in a number of health-related issues including back pain. High heels, worn every day, all day, can affect your back in many ways. Wearing the towering footwear can lead to:

  • Scoliosis or curvature of the spine
  • Lower back pain
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Damaged leg tendons
  • Sciatica or pinched nerves
  • Muscle spasms
  • Osteoarthritis in the knees

Cause of Back Pain

Your spine is comprised of 30 small bones that are stacked in a column. It’s designed to curve in a very gentle S-slope, leaving room for the nerves and blood to run through it smoothly and to support your entire body evenly.

A major cause of back pain occurs when that alignment becomes compromised. Back pain also appears with age as the rubbery cushions between each bone wear away. Joints become stiffer and less flexible, leading to pain that can radiate to your legs and arms. Age also leads to a breakdown in the bone structure, making your spinal bones brittle. Bones that develop tiny cracks are a major cause of back pain. Accidents and disease also can damage your spine.

Take Corrective Action

While you can’t stop aging, you can take care of your spine in a number of ways. Diet, exercise and proper posture mitigate the cause of back pain in a vast number of women. Visiting your spinal doctors when you have symptoms can help to prevent further pain with swift, corrective treatments. Of course, managing your high-heel usage may be the most useful and easiest way to avoid that pain in your back.

Surveys show that about 72 percent of women wear high heels at some point in the year. With the rise in health consciousness over the last few decades, fewer women wear the towering heels than in the 1980s, but still they remain ubiquitous.

Step It Up

You don’t have to give up high fashion to avoid this cause of back pain. By following a few simple suggestions, you can minimize the danger. Vigilance pays off when it comes to wearing high heels.

  • Stretch the backs of your legs before and after donning heels.
  • Choose heels with a rounded or square toe instead of pointy toes.
  • Wear your highest heels for brief periods (34 hours tops).
  • Go for shoes with leather insoles to prevent slippage.
  • Buy shoes in late afternoon when your feet are at their biggest.
  • Alternate high heel days with low and moderately heeled days.
  • Listen to your body; take off your heels at the slightest twinge of pain.
  • Keep your heel height to no more than two inches, if possible.

There’s no reason to eliminate high heels from your wardrobe unless you already have serious back problems. Ask your doctor at the Southeastern Spine Institute if your shoe-wearing habits are the main cause of back pain. Then step it up, shop wisely, and make it a habit to buy a pair of flats every time you give in to high heels. As if you need a reason to buy two pairs of shoes at a time…