“Stiletto Survival Guide” this Spring Racing season
Spring racing and party season is upon us, what a fun time of year! Great weather, great company, great food and dressing up. Time to create some wonderful memories.
The dampener comes though, as high heels are often a part of the fashion attire. The heels, although they look amazing, have a negative impact on your lower back, hips, knees, feet and even your neck. Wearing high heels often leads to pain and discomfort as a result of the body compensating for the shift in weight distribution and body position. The good news: There are things you can do to prepare yourself for wearing heels in order to minimise the effect on your body.
Wearing heels with a heel height higher than 5cms causes the lower back to push forward, increasing pressure on the knees. This also results in the chest being pushed forward. This can cause hip and low back pain. All of this occurs because the body is forced to adapt to the increased pressure on the forefoot when wearing high heels.
The change in low back alignment with wearing heels may lead to shooting pain, numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, spasms, cramping and pain that radiates through the buttocks and down the legs. This pain is known as sciatica.
If high heels are worn day in, day out, the body adapts over time by shortening the calf muscles and thickening the Achilles tendon.
If you do wear heels regularly there are things that you can do to have your body in better condition to cope with them. These things include: —
- Build a strong core (glutes and abdominal strength) to protect your low back
- If you do get low back pain when wearing heels: Focus on engaging your core by holding your stomach and buttocks in tight (as if you are bracing for a punch to the tummy) as this will move your pelvis back to support your lower back.
- After you have worn your heels: Ensure you stretch through the hip flexors
Here are some additional tips for surviving wearing high heels: –
- Avoid wearing high heels for a long period of time. Take a pair of flat shoes with you to change into. Thank goodness fashion sneakers are in!!!
- Stretch your calf muscles before and after wearing high heels.
- Try and set the height limit of your shoes to no more than 5cms.
- Avoid very pointy toes as these are even more stressful on your feet and spine.
- When you get home, or the next day if it is quite late: Roll a frozen orange or frozen drink bottle under your foot. This provides relief for inflammation in the foot while also massaging and lengthening the muscles under the foot. These muscles will contract after wearing high heels so this massage is amazing for stretching and lengthening them out to give you some welcomed relief.
- Doing a mobility exercise for your feet – from the ankle joint do a figure of 8 movement with the foot. This will help with mobility and increasing blood flow to the area.
If you have Chiropractic care as part of your wellness lifestyle, this would be an ideal time to have an adjustment to help to re-balance your spine and pelvis.
If you do not see a Chiropractor and you have put in place all of the tips above, and you still are having problems, this may be an indicator that your body needs some more help. In this case it may be worth making a time to see a Chiropractor to discuss your individual situation.
I hope these simple tips help you to enjoy Spring racing season without pain and discomfort.
Dr. Deanne Esposito (Chiropractor)