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Too much…causes back pain

Wearing excessively high heel shoes…causes back pain

If you want to be beautiful, then you have to suffer – this is an old saying that many women still keep in mind. When you wear high-heeled shoes, you will certainly gain some extra grace and beauty, especially when walking. But you must also accept that, when the heels come off, you may suffer from pain, stiffness and soreness in certain areas. These days, ladies shoes are getting taller and taller, and sometimes we can forget that our feet are not naturally designed to support all of our bodyweight exclusively at the front of the foot. Back pain, from wearing high-heeled shoes is increasingly common.

Our bodies are designed so that the lower back area at the waist is slightly curved towards the front of the body. When wearing high-heeled shoes, however, that lower back area is pushed even further towards the front of the body, and in turn, the chest is pulled backwards to compensate. The higher the high heel, the more we will need to arch ourselves forward so that we can balance, and the harder your muscles will need to work to keep us upright, as well.. Additionally, there are small, interlocking bones and joints in our spines that can suffer when our body weight is distributed unevenly. Wearing high-heeled shoes increases the burden on those small joints in the spine, which can cause back pain. 

When we wear normal shoes without heels, our body weight is distributed evenly throughout the foot. But when we wear high-heeled shoes, about 70% of our weight is at the front of the foot, and 30% is at the back. This creates a situation of excessive pressure concentrated at one point at the front of the foot. Research suggests that if high-heeled shoes are higher than one inch, they increase the pressure on the foot and back by 22%. These days, women can be seen wearing four to five-inch high-heeled shoes, it’s not difficult to imagine just how much extra pressure this puts on the foot and back. Wearing high heels not only causes back pain, but may also cause pain at the heels, ankles, calves, knees and hips, because we use the whole of our bodies to balance – not just the feet.

What should I do if I want to wear high heels?

  • Don’t wear high heels for too long. (There is no exact figure as to what constitutes “too long” – it depends on each person’s body. Basically, if your feet start to feel sore, then take off the high heels and give them a rest.) Taking the shoes off for a while, should help them to recover.
  • Don’t wear heels that are too high. Research suggests that high heels should be no more than two inches tall.
  • Don’t wear heels that are too pointy.
  • Don’t wear high-heeled shoes that are too narrow.
  • When you buy shoes, you should try them on and buy them in the afternoon, because that’s when the feet have expanded compared to the morning after first getting out of bed. Then when you wear the shoes, they will likely pinch your feet less.
  • Take care of your muscles by doing some light stretching before and after wearing high heels.
  • Ladies who like to wear high heels should also beware of falling on steps or twisting an ankle. This may not be related to back pain, but it can cause the ankles to sprain or even break.

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Sitting for too long…can cause back pain

Sitting is the posture that puts the most stress on the spine. Sitting for long periods of time can, therefore, cause back pain, and also cause muscle pain, as well. This is because when we sit for long periods of time, our muscles stay contracted, and cannot relax. Generally, it is recommended that you should not sit in one position for over 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, you should get up and change your position, change your posture. This presents a big problem for female office staff, who must sit at desks for long periods of time, which can also lead to a condition known as office syndrome.

In addition to sitting for long periods of time, sitting with incorrect posture – with a crooked back and slouching forward while using a computer – also causes back pain, and this pain can also spread to the neck, shoulders, hips and legs.

Correct sitting posture     

Sitting correctly means that you need to sit comfortably and naturally with your back nice and straight. Your back should be close to the backrest of your chair; your torso should be straight; and your lower legs should rest at 90 degrees to the floor. The weight of your legs should rest evenly on the soles of both feet. Don’t bend forward to look at the computer screen. Your eyes should be level with your computer screen. When using the keyboard, you should keep the elbows close to your torso, so that the wrists are in a straight line at a 90 degree angle with the shoulders.  Sit correctly and change positions every now and then. This way you will be able to help reduce back pain, shoulder pain and neck pain.

Driving for too long…can cause back pain

Driving a vehicle requires a seated posture, which, as mentioned above, puts a lot of stress on the spine. Additionally, when driving a vehicle, you can’t sit as comfortably as you would elsewhere – such as at home or on the sofa – because driving a vehicle requires a high level of concentration, and you are also surrounded by other operational equipment at all times. This, in turn, means that the muscles have to work even harder than usual, which can cause fatigue, back pain, arm pain and leg pain. Also, if the driver also suffers from other complicating factors, such as obesity or previous spinal conditions, this can cause more intense and more frequent back pain.

Correct sitting posture for driving

Your knees should be slightly higher than your hips, the seat should be at a suitable level with the steering wheel, not too far away, but not too close either, so that you can control the steering wheel effectively and comfortably. Your legs should rest comfortably on the pedals, so that you can adjust the weight applied to each pedal, as required. The sitting posture that puts the least pressure on your spine is when you lean back around 20 degrees, and the backrest has a back support, but it will depend on each individual’s body how far you should lean back to get it just right.  Some people like to recline when sitting, as if good sitting posture is almost the same as sleeping. This may feel more comfortable, but sitting in this reclined position actually increases stress on the waist, increases soreness in the back, and adopting a sleep-like sitting posture may even cause you to fall asleep at the wheel.

Wearing high heels, sitting or driving for long periods of time, or having an incorrect sitting position, may not be the direct cause of your back pain, but it can cause back pain to worsen nonetheless. You should, therefore, change your behavior so that you sit correctly. If you ignore back pain for a long time, even if your muscles are otherwise healthy, then it can cause further problems to develop in the spine. Anyone who already suffers from back pain, likewise, should avoid behaviors that will exacerbate the painful symptoms.

It is important to know that you should not neglect the health of your back. If you have sudden back pain, chronic back pain or any other abnormal symptoms, no matter what the cause may be, then don’t ignore it, and don’t try to diagnose it on your own. It’s always better to visit your doctor to find out the real cause. Even minor symptoms, left untreated, can spread to further stages that may even require surgical treatment.

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Pravit Sukcharoenchaikul, M.D. Summary: Orthopedics Orthopedics