26 August 2019
Wearing high heels changes the biomechanics of the human body while standing and walking. Photo: Reuters
Wearing high heels changes the biomechanics of the human body while standing and walking. Photo: Reuters

The dangers of those lovely stilettos

From stilettos, pumps, to ballerinas, the wide variety of shoes create a kaleidoscopic picture and offer so much fun to styling.

Shoes that are high and pointy are most adored by fashion-savvy ladies. Unfortunately, they are also highly associated with backache as they put great strain on the body.

Female readers would be able to relate to the scenario wherein a person kicks off a pair of high heels hurriedly after reaching home, feeling extremely tired, especially at the lower back, even though it hadn’t really been a busy day.

In most backache cases, high heels of more than five centimeters are to blame.

Wearing high heels changes the biomechanics of human bodies while standing and walking. It also alters the center of gravity of joints. When the height is lifted by the extra inches under the heels, weights shift from the heels to the toes. The alteration will reduce the stability of ankle joints, leading to ankle sprains.

When in high heels, more weight is shifted forward to the knee joints, causing hyperextension of knees to counterbalance. The increased knee joint load can prematurely age the joints and put women at risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Misplacing center mass to the front will also cause anterior pelvic tilt, a lordotic back and accelerate the wearing and tearing of lumbar discs and nerves around the waist. The increased pressure on the lumbar spine and the back tightens the muscles, triggering pain and nerve issues.

Also, the body may not be familiar with the platform created by high-heel shoes and become less sensitive or reactive to sudden external changes. Injuries can easily happen.

Those whose work uniform includes a pair of high heels are recommended to be well trained physically and soothe out the tight muscles regularly to minimize hazards caused by the shoes.

Wall squatting is an ideal exercise to do during recess. Slide the back down the wall and half squat with the knees bent at 20-degree angles. A few sets of wall squats can effectively alleviate the pressure on knee joints.

Another exercise is to stand with one leg straight. Placing the center of gravity on only one leg alternatively can help strengthen the knees.

If you are really obsessed with high heels, limit the height to 5 cm (around two inches) and keep your head up and chest forward while walking in them. Avoid carrying heavy bags which may cause you to lose balance or fall.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 14

Translation by John Chui

[Chinese version 中文版]

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