High heels are fashionable. They make you look thinner and taller, and they can bring out the muscle definition in your legs, especially your calves. Wearing high heels regularly can help improve muscle tone in your legs, abdomen and pelvic floor. Wearing high heels regularly changes your posture and can have an effect on your joints, as well as your muscles. Here are three joints that are affected by wearing high heels.
1) The Metatarsal Joint
The metatarsal joint is located in the ball of your foot. Wearing high heels regularly can cause pain in this joint, a condition known as metatarsalgia.
This is because the high heeled shoe forces your foot into an unnaturally elevated position. When you wear high heeled shoes, you must walk around on your tiptoes. Walking on tiptoe puts a lot of pressure on your metatarsal joint and can cause pain.
Wearing high heeled shoes regularly can also cause a condition known as Morton’s neuroma, in which the tissue surrounding the nerve between your third and fourth toes thickens. This condition also occurs as a result of placing too much weight on the ball of the foot.
2) The Knees
Once of the most documented effects of high heels is their effect on the knees. High heels are well known for causing knee pain and can even lead to osteoarthritis in the knee. Osteoarthritis of the knee occurs when cartilage in the knee begins to break down. As the cartilage in the joint deteriorates, the bones are left to rub together, causing pain, joint stiffness and inflammation. Women are far more vulnerable to arthritis of the knees than men, and medical professionals believe that that’s because most women wear high heels.
Walking in high heels puts an abnormal amount of pressure and stress on both the front and back of the knee joint. The cartilage of your knee must remain well lubricated with joint fluid in order to stay healthy and strong. Stress on the knee joint limits the flow of joint fluid through the knee, making cartilage more likely to dry out and begin to deteriorate.
3) Joints of the Spine
Wearing high heeled shoes changes your center of gravity and alters your posture. Generally, wearing high heeled shoes accentuates the forward curve of your spine, especially the lumbar spine. This can be a good thing for those who have little or no natural forward curve in their lumbar spine. Wearing high heeled shoes can help these people attain a more natural forward curve, decreasing the muscle tension and back pain associated with this lumbar spine abnormality.
However, for those with a normal forward curve of the lumbar spine, wearing high heeled shoes regularly for long periods can cause back pain and stiffness, because it over-accentuates the forward curve of the spine. Those who already have an abnormally accentuated forward curve in the lumbar spine may want to avoid high heels altogether. Over time, high heels can cause pinched nerves, nerve damage, pain and muscle weakness because they over-accentuate the forward curve of the spine.