Good Question: What Do High Heels Do To Your Body?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Lawmakers in the United Kingdom are taking up a debate on high heels. They want to make it illegal for employers to require women to wear them. Members of Parliament brought up the topic after a receptionist started a petition for being sent home from work for wearing flats.

Right now, about 40 percent of American women report wearing high heels each day. But, what do they do to our bodies? Good Question.

“It puts you in position where we haven’t evolved to walk that way,” says Dr. D.J. Oeltjenbruns, a podiatric surgeon at Hennepin County Medical Center.

When people walk in heels, they put a lot of the weight onto the forefront of the foot.

According to the Spine Health Institute, a one-inch heel puts 22 percent of a person’s weight on their ball of their foot. A two-inch heel increases the percentage to 57 percent. With a three-inch heel, more than three-quarters of a person’s weight is on their forefoot.

High heels also change how people carry their bodies, so they can stay balanced.  People push forward their chest and lower back, which takes the hips and spine out of alignment.  People walk as if they were walking up a ramp.

“That puts a lot of stress in our knee because we compensate for that in our gait,” says Dr. Oeltjenbruns. “Your knee basically bends backwards putting a lot stress on that joint.”

He says high heels aren’t necessarily the cause of bunions, plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis, but the heels can aggravate those conditions.

He recommends to patients to stick with heels that are two-inches or less, wear them sparingly and balance them out with athletic shoes.

More from Heather Brown
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