The Impact of Wearing Heels on Your Body: A Physiotherapy Perspective

Blogs, / By Winsen Citra

In today’s fashion-conscious world, high heels have become an integral part of many women’s wardrobes. They add elegance and height, instantly elevating an outfit. However, as a physiotherapist, I feel it’s crucial to shed light on the potential impact that wearing heels can have on your body. While high heels may enhance your appearance, they can also lead to a myriad of musculoskeletal issues if not worn mindfully and in moderation. In this blog post, we will explore the effects of wearing heels on different body parts and provide practical tips to minimize the associated risks.

The Effects on the Feet

When you slip into a pair of high heels, your body weight is redistributed, placing a significant burden on the balls of your feet. This unnatural pressure can lead to discomfort, pain, and conditions such as metatarsalgia and bunions. Additionally, wearing heels regularly can shorten the Achilles tendon, making it challenging to walk comfortably in flat shoes.

Impact on the Ankles

High heels cause the ankles to be constantly flexed forward, increasing the risk of ankle sprains and instability. The elevated position of the foot alters the natural walking pattern, leading to potential balance issues and an increased risk of tripping or falling.

Knees and Hips

As you wear heels, your body’s alignment is altered, placing excessive stress on the knees and hips. This can lead to pain, inflammation, and long-term issues like osteoarthritis. Prolonged wear can also contribute to the tightening of hip flexors and weakening of gluteal muscles.

Spinal Alignment

One of the most concerning effects of wearing heels is the change in spinal alignment. Heels force the lumbar spine into an exaggerated curve, known as an anterior pelvic tilt. This can lead to lower back pain and increase the risk of spinal disc issues and nerve impingement over time.

Tips for Wearing Heels Safely
  1. Choose Quality Over Quantity: Invest in well-made, comfortable heels with proper arch support to reduce the strain on your feet and ankles.
  2. Limit Heel Height and Duration: Reserve higher heels for special occasions and opt for lower heels for everyday wear. Avoid wearing heels for extended periods; give your feet a break whenever possible.
  3. Stretch and Strengthen: Regularly stretch your calf muscles and perform exercises to strengthen your ankles and core muscles. This can help counteract the negative effects of wearing heels.
  4. Alternate Footwear: Rotate between different types of shoes, including flats, sneakers, and supportive footwear, to allow your feet to rest and recover.
  5. Consider Orthotics: If you experience chronic foot pain or discomfort, consider custom orthotic inserts to provide better support and alignment.
  6. Mind Your Posture: While wearing heels, focus on maintaining good posture to reduce strain on your back and lower body.
  7. Choose Flat Heels: Opt for heels with a wider base or wedge design, as they offer more stability and distribute pressure more evenly across the foot.

As a physiotherapist, my advice is not to completely avoid wearing heels but to do so with mindfulness and moderation. Understand the potential impact of wearing heels on your body and take proactive steps to mitigate the risks. By following the tips provided and listening to your body, you can strike a balance between style and comfort while minimizing the negative effects of high heels on your overall well-being. Remember, your health and well-being are always worth prioritizing.

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Winsen Citra
Principal Physiotherapist

Winsen graduated from University of Melbourne in 2012. He worked in organisations of various sizes such as Singapore General Hospital, Pain Relief Practice, and Physioclinic before working at Elevate Physiotherapy. He specialises in sports and musculoskeletal injuries and has worked with athletes of various sports such as fencing, dancing, dragon boating, and cycling.

In his spare time he enjoys singing and playing chess.