Spinal Health and Footwear: Can Heels Be Detrimental to Your Spine?

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November 27, 2023
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Shoes affect the health of your spine. There are many shoes that can cause spinal and back pain, so it is important to know how to stay healthy while wearing heels in order to prevent injury.

When it comes to footwear, there are few items more coveted than the perfect pair of heels. But what are these high-heeled shoes really doing for our feet? There’s a common misconception that wearing these fashionable foot accessories is actually good for you. Although many people will make huge sacrifices for their footwear fashion, at what cost? A number of studies have proven that high-heels can alter your posture and change how you walk—taking a toll on your spine!

Illustration comparing the impact of heels and flat shoes on spinal health.

The ideal pair of heels can make any outfit look complete. However with style come some drawbacks – namely pain and discomfort when wearing them all day long. Many people sacrifice comfort in order to wear the latest styles, but at what costs? Studies have shown that high heels

High heels did not start with women’s fashion. These shoes were first used by cavalry men to allow them to have better control over the stirrup. In modern times, women wear high heels  to add height and project elegance. These are necessary traits that go well with specific types of dresses or outfit. Heels are not necessarily worn on a daily basis. 

However, there are those who wear heels on a daily basis. High heels are usually part of some kind of uniform for some occupations. Models and sales personnel typically wear high heels. 

High heels are not limited to women’s shoes. Cowboy boots also have heels higher than 2 inches. This can be cause for concern because cowboy tasks already take a heavy toll on the body.

The Truth Behind High Heels

There are many reasons why high heels shouldn’t be worn. For one, they can cause the calf muscles to stay in a flexed position, which causes fatigue throughout your lower body. They also have negative effects on your posture and spine, lead to increased pain in your back or shoulders, and make it difficult for you to walk correctly.

Wearing high heels often can place your body in a position similar to walking on a ramp, causing your calf muscles to stay in a flexed position, increasing fatigue throughout your lower body. Besides that, high-heels can cause the following issues: 

  • Tilts your Pelvis Up – They increase pain in the back or shoulders; they may strain some of the muscle groups responsible for stabilizing your hips and knees. Wearing them also tilts your pelvis up and messes with your spine alignment. 
  • Puts Excessive Pressure On Knees – One way they change your anatomy is through excessive pressure on the knees, which results in difficulty walking. 
  • Changes the Anatomy – They also push the feet into an unnatural position that changes how you walk and alters posture overall.Over time the foot and legs would be forced into an unnatural position due to constantly wearing of high heels. There are instances where the individual starts during her teens and use heels exclusively, leading to a change in the foot structure. The foot’s default stance changes because the bones have changed. Wearing shorter heels results in pain and imbalance when walking.

Wearing high heels for a couple of hours on end can lead to lower back pain, and regularly wearing them can have detrimental effects on your body, increasing your risks of falls and twisted ankles. 

Easing High-Heel Pain 

High-heels may hurt your feet, but wearing them is a trend that’s not going away. If you’re like many others that insist that beauty demands some suffering, here are different ways to ease high-heel pain. 

  • Stretch Your Feet – Stretch your Achilles tendon at least twice a day before and after you wear your heels for 15 minutes each time. This serves as a warm up for the foot muscles. These muscles are stretched while wearing heels. Without a warmup, the muscles become stiff and may not immediately adjust to the stretching from the foot to the calf muscles.
  • Limit the Time You Wear Heels – It’s time to put the high heels away for a while. While they can bring you that extra height and feeling of power, wearing them too often can lead to long term damage. Trying to keep up with your daily routine in those uncomfortable shoes will only make matters worse. Limit how much you wear these fashionable items so as not to cause irreversible damage.
  • Use Orthotics Orthotics is a medical device that evenly distributes forces on your foot so that you don’t have to walk around with aching feet. 
  • Soak Your Feet – After a long day of wearing heels, soaking your feet in warm Epsom salt can give you a great relief from muscle pain and improve circulation. It relieves the muscles and helps relax the foot. 
  • Wear Shoes That Fit Properly – You know the size of your shoe – but do you know the size of your feet? The type of shoe someone buys is based on how they feel in a certain style. But if it doesn’t fit properly, you will never have comfortable shoes that can be worn for long periods at a time. This could lead to discomfort and even injury. When choosing what kind of shoes to buy, always try them on first!
  • Go for Shorter Heels  There are a lot of great shoes that you can wear to dress up an outfit, but make sure not to go too high with your heels. Anything over 2 inches will cause some major pain and discomfort and may even lead to long-term damage. Instead of 4-inch heels, Use 2-inch platform shoes with an additional 2-inch heel. The platform shoes would add the same height as a 4-inch heel.


Although high heels may complete any outfit, they can wreak havoc on your body, causing painful issues in your spine, alongside your feet, ankles, knees, and hips. It’s best to avoid them altogether, but if you’re adamant about wearing them, consider the methods mentioned to protect your spine and your sense of fashion. 



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