The Devil Wears Prada: High Heels & Back Pain

Beauty is pain, and this fall’s footwear fashion trends promise a lot of it! Sky-high platforms, pumps, pointy-toes and ice-sculpture inspired heels are among the season’s avant-garde offenders. Worn by the catwalk goddess they scream Vogue, while on your feet you scream ‘ouch!’ In the endless struggle to stay in style, did you know you could be sacrificing more than just the comfort of your feet?

A 2013 study conducted by the College of Podiatry reported a majority of women experience pain within the first hour of wearing heels and more than 40 percent of women said that they’d suffer for the sake of fashion. What these women may not know is this temporary pain could be detrimental to their health in the future.

Posture, gait and alignment of your knees, hips and spine are all disrupted when you strut your stuff in stilettos. According to an article written by the American Osteopathic Association, frequent prolonged wear of high-heel shoes can even change the shape of your spine over time. The article explains the spine develops an S-curve, compressing the vertebrae of the spine while forcing excessive strain on the thighs, knees and hip flexors.

Learn more about back pain

Unnatural changes in your body’s posture and alignment add unwanted stress to your spine, causing cases of nerve, joint and muscle pain. To compensate, the overworked muscles surrounding your spine will shorten, leading to back pain and typically muscle spasms. Other conditions, such as lumbar lordosis— a significant inward sway of the low back, which causes back pain— and sciatica— a condition where pain radiates down the path of the sciatic nerve from the low back, hip and buttocks, typically down the back of one leg, can also develop. In addition, high heels have been reported to exacerbate the pain of an already present spinal condition or previous injury, especially in cases of osteoarthritis, facet joint arthritis and facet syndrome.

Ladies, the next time you decided to suck it up in the name of Prada consider a healthy compromise.

Here are a few choice brands that marry style with comfort and support:

  • Michael Kors “Flex’ Pump provides a mid-heel sophisticated pump with a flexible, padded footbed for long lasting comfort.
  • Cole Haan implements the Nike Air technology to the soles of its shoes, which provides cushion and shock absorption.
  • Taryn Rose, founded by California-based orthopedic surgeon in 1998, provides a design with a wider toe box, tighter heel grip, arch support and shock-absorbing foam lining.
  • All Day Heels, developed by Canadian footwear retailer and designer Ron White, offers arch support and built-in cushioning.

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