Surviving Nightlife: How High Heels Wreak Havoc on Your Body
Oh, High Heels. The sex-appeal accessory that 72% of women wear and 100% of Strippers and Burlesque Dancers consider part of their “uniform”. We spend countless hours strutting, spinning and grinding on stages in towering high heels because they make women sexier. No really, it’s been scientifically proven.
I used to wear high heels seven days a week. I loved click-clacking confidently down the street in a sexy pair. If I wasn’t wearing heels, someone was sure to point it out. Rarely, if ever, was I seen in flats, let alone sneakers. That was before I started dancing for a living.
Now I work up to 20 hours a week in 7″ platform heels to create the illusion of mile-long legs floating across the stage. In fact, my every-day heel collection has been left behind, forgotten about, collecting dust in my closet. These days, I live for flats. I even own clogs that I bartend in. Clogs!?! Who am I?!
Oh yeah, I’m a woman in her thirties who realizes that working and dancing in heels is taking a toll on my feet and my body. I no longer care about prancing around in heels during the day. I just want to be comfortable. If you want me to wear heels, you’re most likely gonna have to pay me.
Because while heels may be sexy and lead to the illusion of longer legs and a thinner physique, they are doing a number on your body.
How High Heels Wreak Havoc on Your Body
Wearing heels can result in foot, low back, neck, and shoulder pain. The body’s natural structure is such that the plantar fascia, or flat band of tissue that connects the toes to the heel, connects to the calf which in turn attaches to the hamstrings. The hamstrings further attach to the pelvis and low back. The angle of the foot in heels creates a domino effect that pulls these muscles and their joints out of alignment, disrupting the natural form of the body.
As your body attempts to correct the angle of wearing high-heels, it creates an exaggerated arch in the back. The chest is pushed forward and that ass is pushed out, aka the “Stripper Stance”. While this might encourage men to want to throw some extra dollars your way for such a bodacious booty, it’s also slowly altering your posture. For the worse.
Over the years, repeated wear of high heels will change your anatomy by shortening your calf muscles and potentially thickening the Achilles Tendon. In fact, a study done by the Journal of Experimental Biology shows that wearing heels 2 inches (ha) or higher, more than five times a week, shrinks calf muscles by up to 13% as well as thickens the Achilles tendon up to 22% on average. This shortening of calf muscles can result in pain and discomfort when wearing flats or going barefoot.
Regular wear of high heels can also lead to possible spinal nerve conditions. This is because the angle of the back while wearing heels can lead to slight sliding of vertebral discs putting pressure on the spinal nerves. More commonly known as Sciatica, this can cause shooting pains, numbness, tingling, and cramping in the butt and legs.
There are a few things you can do to help reduce the effects of wearing heels. First, and thankfully for us strippers, wearing platforms will reduce pressure on the ball of the foot. Secondly, choose high heels with a wider heel as it will provide a more even distribution of weight on the foot. Most importantly, slip on some sneakers or flats to allow your feet to ‘rest’ after wearing heels.
Caring For Your Feet
I know you aren’t going to stop wearing heels, neither am I. It’s inevitable and ultimately a part of the hustle life. Taking the time to properly care for your feet, though, can also help reduce the long-term effects of high heels.
Take time during long shifts to stretch the calves and plantar fascia to loosen hamstrings. Loosening the hamstrings reduces the pull on the lower back. Utilizing yoga balls or tennis balls is a great way to give your feet a deep stretch and massage that will relieve pain and loosen tight muscles.
Watch this video for techniques on how to use yoga balls to relieve foot pain.
After long hours in heels soak your feet in Epsom salt to help ease pain and reduce inflammation. Epsom salt is a naturally occurring compound of magnesium and sulfate. Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body, including reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function, and prevention of artery hardening. Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients and flush toxins.
Simply mix a 1/2 a cup of Epsom Salt in a bucket, pot, pan, or whatever you have on hand and soak for twenty minutes. Maybe have a glass of wine and read a book while you’re at it.
Moisturizing your feet regularly helps to prevent rough skin and dry patches that can develop. These dry patches can build into calluses in high impact areas like the sides of your toes, heels, and balls of your feet. Applying foot cream before bed and then putting on socks helps to lock in the moisture, leaving your feet soft and smooth in the morning. Soak your feet in Epsom salt first for the best results.
4. Cushioned Insoles
Placing a gel insole in your heels can help provide cushion where you need it the most, the balls of your feet. Even the smallest insole can give you more support, making your heels more wearable.
A pedicure is a great way to care for possible ingrown toenails, calluses, and foot aches. Bonus, it will make you feel better too. I mean come on…. the massage chair, foot soak, mini foot rub, and shiny, freshly painted toe-nails? You’ll prance out of the salon feeling better and how your feet look and feel. Plus, that guy who is really into feet will appreciate your pedicure and throw a few extra dollars your way.
All of these are great things you can add to your daily routine.
Remember you have only one body and your feet quite literally carry you through life. So, take the time to care for them.