What You Should Know: High Heels and Back Pain

High Heels and Back Pain

We’re sure you’re familiar with the saying: “beauty is pain.” And when it comes to footwear, a lot of us suffer this pain to keep up with the latest fashion trends. But did you know that making the wrong shoe choice could be causing your body more harm than just aching feet? At Chesapeake Family Wellness Center, we treat a lot of patients who complain of bad knee, back or neck pain. And a good number of these patients also admit to wearing high heels on a daily basis… Let’s take a look at the correlation between high heels and back pain.

In a recent survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) it was found that 77% of U.S. adults have experienced a foot problem. That means almost 8 in every 10 Americans have reported foot pain! With such a high number of people experiencing pain, we wondered, how many of these people are also experiencing back pain?

Now we’re not saying you need to throw away your favorite pair of boots or swear off high heels forever. But we do want you to know the potentially damaging affects certain footwear can have on your health. So, if you want happy feet and a healthy back, keep reading!

The Real Price of Wearing Heels

There are many reasons women choose to wear high heels. Walk into any department store and you’ll see isles upon isles of high heels in all different colors and heights. But according to APMA, when it comes to shoes, high heels are the #1 culprit of foot pain. So why do we continue to shop for shoes that have such negative side effects? Maybe it’s the fact that so many women today grew up watching Cinderella find love with the help of a pair of glass slippers. Or maybe it’s the fact that heels are so popular in the business workplace.

High Heels and Back Pain

Chiropractic View on High Heels

High heels place an increased amount of pressure on the front of your foot, causing the rest of your body to move out of alignment to maintain balance. Heels put additional stress on your calf, hip, and back muscles – which is what causes you to feel tight and fatigued after a long day wearing them.

High Heels and Back Pain

Tips for Less Pain in Heels

We know that it’s far from likely you’ll give up heels for good – but when it comes to reducing back pain and preventing muscle injury, here are a few high heel tips:

  • Make sure you’re wearing the right sized shoe.
  • Heel height matters. A heel’s height determines the weight actually supported by the footwear. The higher the feel, the more pressure on the ball of your foot, and less on the shoe. We recommend a 2-inch height limit.
  • Avoid wearing heels for prolonged periods of time if you can.
  • Incorporate other types of footwear into your daily attire. By doing this, you still have days you can wear your favorite heels
  • Use a commuter shoe! Wear a flatter, more supportive shoe for traveling, and only wear your high heels when absolutely necessary.
  • Invest in massage therapy. Deep tissue massage throughout your calves, quads, and hamstrings can help release tension and reduce muscle soreness for high heels.
  • Stretch your calves and quads often. You can even check out the following videos from our September Muscle of the Month series where we focused on hip flexor stretches: Foam Rolling the Hip Flexors, Banded Quad Stretch, Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch, and the Reclining Quad Stretch.


Our Final Thoughts on High Heels and Back Pain

Ultimately, your footwear choice is totally up to you. But we hope you now understand the serious affects wearing high heels can take on your back and posture. By applying the above tips, you may be able to avoid years of high heel-related pain down the road.


Like we mentioned, we treat many patients with foot, back, and neck pain. If you’re experiencing pain you think may be related to your footwear, visit Chesapeake Family Wellness Center to receive a personalized care plan from Dr. Colquitt! Give us a call at (410) 381-7246 or click below to schedule an appointment!

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