High Heels are A Blessing and a Curse

posted in: ankle, calf, Hamstring | 0

What’s the difference between an 6000 pound elephant stepping on you and or a stiletto high heel shoe worn by a 100 pound human being?

  • The human being wearing the high heel shoe will kill you first. Why? The pointy part of a stiletto is 1/16 square inches in surface area while the elephant’s foot is 40 square inches. If a 100 pound human steps on you with just their heel it is 1500 pounds per square inch versus the 75 pounds  per square inch of the elephants foot.
  • For you physics nerds, pressure is directly proportionate to force and inversely proportionate to area. (P= FxA)

What’s the good and bad of high heel shoes?

  • The good:  they make your butt, calves look really nice, they make you taller, they can be very sexy and pleasing to the eye.
  • The Bad:  Your squat motion, plantar fascia and the windlass mechanism of the arch of your foot are thrown off completely.  Your pelvis may be thrown into anterior tilt and your lower back’s lordosis has been increased, compressing the posterior structures of the spine (think important nervous tissue like the sciatic and tibial nerves).  Your calves and hip flexors shorten (over time),  your butt weakens, and so forth.

At Movement Rx, we have had many athletes come in with various kinds of foot dysfunction.  These dysfunctions usually affect the joints up the chain (knees, hips, low back).  We look at what the individual does all day, what type of shoes they wear, and how active their body is during the day.  We assess everything from low back mobility-stability, all the structures of the foot, and things like tibial torsion and any possible neural tension that may be causing the discomfort of the issues.

stilletto'sToday’s video focuses on neural tension. Neural tension refers to the amount of strain on a nerve, both at rest and with movement. It is when either the central nervous system (spinal cord and brain stem) and or the peripheral nervous system (the nerves that give movement and sensation to our extremities) are stuck somewhere or inflamed somewhere on a neural pathway.  This can create a tension in the tissue surrounding the nerve and create symptoms upstream or downstream in other regions of the body. The symptoms may feel like muscle shortening, muscle spasms, a burning sensation, heightened tenderness in the muscle belly, or numbness and tingling in a region above or below the implicated region.

As you watch the video, keep in mind that a foot movement dysfunction is not always a mobility issue.  If you are not treating the nervous system components and just mobilizing tissue that may not need excessive mobility, then you are missing the picture.   The video shows how to perform a neural glide on the tibial nerve, a nerve that eventually splits into the medial and later plantar nerves that give energy to the muscles in the arch of your foot. The wearing of high heels can cause problems over time, with the overextended posture it enables, plus the tension they put on toes, ankles, and plantar fascia.  So wear your heels sparingly and know that they can kill someone faster than an elephant, but they can also kill your ability to enjoy the movements of life- squatting, lifting, resting etc.


Osteopathic.Org: http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/womens-health/Pages/high-heels.aspx

Manual Therapy Journal: http://www.manualtherapyjournal.com/article/S1356-689X(07)00046-X/abstract

Bret Contreras: http://bretcontreras.com/why-do-i-anterior-pelvic-tilt/

Therapeutic Exercise by Carolyn Kisner and Lynn Allen Colby