Shoes: your heels are slowly killing you

Summer has arrived, how amazing is that ! Oh and what comes with Summer ? Sandals, high heels, painted toes, rockin that beautiful new dress. What kind of shoes should I wear ? What brand, heels or flat ? Let me tell you how shoes affect your posture and how you compensate with your body to try to simulate a straight standing posture.

So let me first address some posture (you should know by now this is my favorite topic, posture and alignment of your beautiful and strong body) When we stand with our feet flat on the ground our body weight is directed straight into the ground with our weight just in front of our heel, so not the heel but the center of the feet. When we wear heels or wedges our body is directed forward with our weight shifting to the front of our feet, you are bearing the weight of your body closer to your toes, that aren’t made to support this weight. When this happens our body has to adapt our posture, otherwise we would fall over (it could be funny!). See the picture below for a visual.

Heel_Alignment

Left :  This shows good posture with flat or no heels and gravity being directed straight downward.
Centre:  This shows how heels effect the distribution of gravity and that you’d fall over if your body didn’t adapt! Maybe we shouldn’t adapt and fall this way we would learn our lesson.
Right:  This is how our bodies adapt! Notice the increased curvatures to the spine, the forward tilt of the pelvis, and the knee bend.

The increased curvature of the spine is decreasing spinal bone density due to less axial loading being directed through the spine and increasing degeneration in your spine (especially in the lumbar spine since the weight isn’t being distributed through the bones properly). To create bone density, the weight of your body needs to be directed in a “bone on bone” alignment, this is how your body produces strong bones, without proper bone on bone alignment, your body decreases your bone density, leading to osteoporosis. It can also cause or contribute to neck and back pain as well as disc herniations and compression fractures of the spine and joints.

The forward tilt of the pelvis causes increased demands on the supportive muscles of the lumbar spine while using less and less of the abdominal muscles. This can contribute to tight and spasms in the muscles of the lumbar spine, weak abdominal and core muscles, and also diminish the bodies coordination between the abdominal and spinal muscles that provide a natural girdle of support to our body. Weakness in the core muscles can cause an increased risk for umbilical and inguinal herniations and make us more prone to lumbar injuries. In addition, the hammock-like muscles in your pelvis that aren’t being used fully will weaken and can possibly lead to pelvic conditions just as urinary incontinence, uterine prolapse, etc. The forward tilt of the pelvis also leads to torsion and rotational forces on the hips and knees and lead to osteoarthritis later on (we are responsible for osteoarthritis, it means there is something you do that creates this disease, so it also means you can do something to prevent it!).

The chronic knee bend causes the muscles of the legs (especially the hamstrings and calf) to stay contracted which can lead to muscle shortening (you were able to touch the floor. For those of you ladies who’ve worn heels all the time and now wants to “quit” heels all together, this shortening of your calf muscles can put you at risk for achilles tendon rupture. (If you’ve worn heels for years, it’s better to gradually decrease the height of your heels over a few months time while incorporating a stretching program to rehabilitate the muscles. PS heels are also present in running shoes, man’s shoes, walking shoes…there is no reason on Earth to have your heels elevated. When you are barefoot, your heel is naturally on the floor, your feet are created to walk this way on uneven terrain, to makes all the muscles in your feet to work and adjust, thousands of of messages sent to your brain. Stop wearing heels, your killing you natural ability to walk, that simple !

Now that’s just the things you can see from the simple picture above, but what about the things you can’t see like the bones of your foot?

PHOTO OF FOOT WITH HEAT COLOR AND BONES

When we walk (walking is different from running, PS running isn’t a natural mouvement of the human body, walking is) the weight of our body is supposed to be directed through our heel first and then distributed to the rest of our foot as flattens from the “heel strike” of our gait. However, when we wear high heels the weight is distributed through the plantar fascia on the bottom of the foot to the ball of our foot (the bones of the common bunion), and through our toes (which are now jammed in the front of the shoe). This leads to chronic tightening and shortening of the plantar fascia leading to plantar fasciitis,  increased incidence of degeneration and deformation of the joints such as bunions, corns, and unsightly calluses, and lastly hammer toes from the shortening of the intrinsic muscles of the toes while they are crammed in the front of our shoe.

048footpainDM_468x616

I love shoes, don’t get me wrong,  I think that they are cute and can greatly add to any outfit! I’ll confess to you that I have plenty of heels in my closet, however I wear them for short periods at a time (think less than 4 hours) and do a stretching program after I wear them to assure that the muscles return to their normal length and so does my posture.

So what about flat shoes that can contribute to foot problems? Flips flops and clogs can cause wearers to grip their toes into the foot to keep them on while walking, shorter strides with less force being directed through the heel, and an abnormal gait pattern that doesn’t stress heel strike to toe off. This can lead to many of the problems mentioned above such as plantar fasciitis in addition to new problems such as decreased range of motion in the hip, knee, and ankle joints and even shin splints.

Flip flops don’t become a problem when worn for short periods of time like quick errands to the store or a trip to the beach, but tend to cause more effects after lengthy time periods or athletic activities such as playing frisbee or volleyball.

No what about walking barefoot you ask? Guess what I ENCOURAGE it daily!! (However, I don’t condone walking barefoot over nails, in public restrooms, or through freshly fertilized soil) Walking barefoot (or with many of the new bare foot movement style shoes such as vibrams and adidas’ new line) helps to encourage movement throughout the foot and loads each of the joints especially if you’re walking on uneven surfaces such as grass or sand. This helps to develop your body’s proprioceptive sense which helps your brain recognize where your foot is located in space and in relation to your environment and can help your foot to protect itself if you were about to twist or roll your ankle. Walking barefoot also helps to stretch out the intrinsic muscles of your foot and can help get your feet healthy again. I encourage, no I CHALLENGE you to walk barefoot at least two hours every day! When you get home from work or errands every day take your shoes and socks off and get moving for a great new healthy habit! Oh yeah and abduct your toes !!!! Spread them apart, stretch them.

For those of you looking for great “all day on your feet” shoes for work that look presentable in a business setting, I personally recommend Kalso’s Earth shoes. They are a little on the pricey side (around $80-130) but they come in leather and many different style and color options. The reason I like these shoes for business is because they have a slightly negative heel and plenty of room for toes. The negative heel means that there is a slight heel/wedge near your toes that forces your weight back towards your heel to prevent plantar fasciitis and the large shoe box provides plenty of room so your toes don’t jam in the front of your shoe. I wear Oxford ugly shoes during the day, I’m in the military, but whenever I can, I remove my shoes in my office to be flat on the floor. And remember it’s not only about the shoes, it is also the way you stand, balance your weight and please stop shifting your pelvis forward ! We all do it, be conscious of it and change the way you balance your body.

Sending love and hopefully some of the stuff I say will make its way into your life.

MARIE-JULIE XOX

Love, Live, Light

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Flats: space to move the toes, roman sandals are a good pick.

@northernstaryoga #northernstaryoga #liquido Shop leggings and top at Northern Star Yoga clothing et utiliser mon code “SAVE20MARIEJ” pour un 20% de rabais sur des vêtements absolument fantastiques ! See you in class yogis !

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