High Heels = Bad Posture + Bad Feet

High Heels = Bad Posture + Bad Feet

Why wearing high heeled shoes is not good for your feet and general posture

Women love to wear high heels, but they will suffer for their vanities. When a woman wears high heels, a new dynamic equilibrium occurs. If one body part becomes fixed, the rest of the body must compensate with altered movement patterns resulting in a series of irritated muscles and stiff joints.

In young women, this is accommodated fairly well by ankle and hip mobility and low back stability. Unfortunately, many high-heel wearing women find that as they age, the hip joints stiffen. Shock waves from each successive step shoot through the lumbar spine causing disc compression, ligamentous laxity and facet joint spurring. Women should be cautious about wearing heels constantly, or over long periods of time.

The foot functions as a compliant mechanism of reception and distribution of body weight, adapting to surface irregularities and acting as a rigid lever that propels the body forward during walking. Footwear gives support to the feet and should be worn to enhance their functions, instead of interfering with the transmission of information from the pressures on the adequate support areas or during the movements needed while walking. Footwear can often change the ideal alignment of the feet.

Exaggerated use of high-heeled footwear causes shortening of the calf musculature. Frequent high-heel wearers thus often feel uncomfortable when wearing flat-soled shoes as the calves are required to lengthen in these types of shoe. The elevation of the heel bone leads to altered walking patterns and can eventually cause foot instability.

There is an important relationship between heel height and overload on the arches of the foot. High heel use changes body mass distribution, reducing the pressure on the heel bone and shifting it to the forefoot. The weight born by the tip of the foot is in direct proportion to the height of the heel. Continuous use of high heels results in overload, which compresses the joints at the base of the toes (the balls of the toes).

Good posture cannot be achieved unless the feet are planted firmly on the ground. As a result, feet deformities and changes in loading also change posture. This raises the issue that if wearing high heels changes the mechanics of the foot, it eventually generates muscular changes to the lower limbs and consequently produces ascending compensatory postural changes.

Clearly, the human foot was not designed to walk in stilettos nor cowboy boots for that matter. The foot is specifically constructed to land in a heel to toe rolling motion whereby the foot arch, ankle, and knee absorb shock and release the ground reaction-force up the body’s kinetic chain to counter-rotate the torso and pelvis. The heeled shoe steals this propulsive power from tendons, ligaments and leg muscles.

Not only do heels place the foot and leg under greater stress to achieve the demands of propulsion, but the borrowed power must be leeched from higher structures in the kinetic chain – the knees, thigh muscles, hips, and trunk. As a small army of anatomical reinforcements are recruited to rescue the handicapped fascial tissues, the body continues to lose energy to the ground.

Shoe heels of any height set in motion a series of negative consequences, rendering normal walking impossible. Ask your chiropractor to check your feet. He or she should be able to adjust or manipulate the joints of the feet to relieve the effects of walking in high heeled shoes.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

Back Pain Relief Exercises

Back Pain Relief Exercises

Relieve your back pain through following these exercises

Back pain relief can be achieved by following these simple exercises. These exercises aim to re-hydrate the intervertebral discs and facilitate your core strength. The intervertebral discs are cartilaginous structures in between the vertebra in the spine. Their function is actually quite complicated but you can think of them as “spacers” that also serve to absorb shock transmitted through the spine.

Essentially, from the time we arise in the morning, to the time we return to bed at night, we lose fluid from the discs. The discs do not have a blood supply and so can only get nourishment via osmosis. This means the discs are reliant on movement throughout the body which pushes fluid back into the discs.

If your job finds you sitting for long periods or maintaining one posture for a long time (eg. counter operators), your spine succumbs to the compressive forces of the weight of your torso, and gravity in general. When this happens, your discs decrease in height as fluid leaks out of the discs. In turn, the joints between successive vertebra, specifically the facet joints, jam up against eachother causing pain.

These exercises will suit the majority of people but it is best to see a health practitioner immediately if you have incurred back pain. There may be some factor specific to your condition that renders some of these exercises unsafe for you.

Pelvic wiggling

Lie face down on the ground for 1-3 minutes allowing yourself to get comfortable. Then, wiggle your pelvis from left to right fairly quickly. This activates a core muscle (multifidus) which is often under active in most back pain sufferers. Do this for 30 seconds.

Lying in extension

Lie face down in the extended position for 3 minutes. You can do 3 minutes at a time or 3 sets of 1 minute. Keep your hips against the floor at all time, do not allow your pelvis to lift off.

Lazy push-ups

As above but with momentum. Start lying face down, then using your arms, push your upper body only into the lazy push-up position. Do about 3 sets of 12 repetitions.

Pelvic rocking

Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. In this position note that your lower back is somewhat raised, or arched, off the floor. Flatten your back against the floor (push fairly hard) and then relax. Do this fairly quickly for about 30 seconds, aim for 30 repetitions.

Knees rocking

Lie on your back, and bring the knees perpendicular to the floor. Cross the ankles and allow the knees to relax outwards. Hold your knees with your hands and pull them towards you repetitively for about 30 seconds in a pumping action. Pull gently to affect the lower lumbar vertebra and a little harder to focus on the upper lumbar vertebra. Expect to feel slight but tolerable pain.

Reverse curl

As above but without the use of your arms. Use your lower abdominal muscles to curl your lower body towards your chest. Expect this action to be a little more painful than the above exercise. Do not allow the knees to relax past the point perpendicular to the floor. Repeat 15 times.

Back block

Lie on your back with the knees bent. Lift your bottom and slide a block (phone book) under the sacrum (the hard flat bone at the base of your spine). Straighten out one leg at a time until both legs are relaxed. Hold this position for 60 seconds expecting some initial discomfort as your body adapts to the position.

Child’s pose

This is a yoga posture which amongst other structures, will stretch out your low back. Assume the child”s pose and hold anywhere from 30 seconds onwards. You may also feel tightness in the front of your ankles and hips. Be patient with this posture, it may take time to understand it ” practice makes perfect.

Floor lunge

Another posture derived from yoga, this stretch aims to loosen the hip capsule and associated muscles, intricately connected to the low back. Lie on all fours, bringing your right knee towards your right hand. Place your right foot in front of your left hip so that your foot rests in front of your groin as you straighten your left leg by moving backwards along the floor. Sink your body down onto the right foot trapped under your left groin. Try to keep your body low and straight along the floor and resist the temptation to roll off the trapped leg. Maintain the position for 30 seconds, perform each side.

Squatting

Place your heels and toes together, then drop your bottom to the floor whilst holding a secure rail to keep your body secure. Part your knees wide, letting your head drop through towards the floor. Bounce in this position attempting to get your bottom closer to the floor. Do this for 30 seconds at a time.

Forward bending

Do this randomly throughout the day. Bend forward slowly keeping your knees bent, allowing your low back to round as much as possible. Then, pull your tummy in, and roll upwards, vertebra by vertebra.

The theme of these exercises is “to give the discs a drink”. The resultant pressure changes during these exercises stimulates disc cell metabolism and the synthesis of proteoglycans ” the protein building blocks of discs. Perform them regularly, and your back will thank you.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

Chiropractic meets Physiotherapy

A comparison of chiropractic and physiotherapy

I am always on the lookout for new techniques that may help my patients. In fact, most of you know that my own style of treatment has developed from a wealth of observation of chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths and even massage therapists and yoga instructors.

Recently, with a twinge of back pain from training and playing tennis five days a week (silly me!), I decided to use this as an opportunity to see how a physiotherapist would treat me. I booked into a really expensive centre that comes with high accolades in the treatment of back pain. With a firm understanding on the likely approach a chiropractor would take to the complaint, I was interested to see how this approach would compare with that of a direct competitor.

My experience was extremely positive. I was very impressed with the physiotherapist’s diagnosis and felt very confident she both understood and had the skill to improve my complaint. Interestingly, her approach to the consultation in terms of the history taken, examination process and treating style, was very similar to that of my own. This was very reassuring, as it reflects a breaking down in the barrier between chiropractors and physiotherapists. I believe many people feel the two disciplines are arch rivals in a battle for patient market share.

Of course, treatment will vary greatly from one practitioner to the next. There are some chiropractors who solely use manipulation as their treatment modality. By the same token, there are some physiotherapists who prefer the use of heat lamps, ultrasound, interferential machines over manual techniques. I have noticed in my observations however, that more and more practitioners are recognising that patients need and deserve more than a simple manipulation or 15 minutes of acupuncture. Personally, I prefer the healing touch of a hands-on practitioner and as a result, I use my hands as much as possible in treating my patients.

The consultation with the physiotherapist incorporated mostly manual mobilisation techniques and exercise prescription. Mobilisation techniques are generally focussed at joints of the body. Physiotherapists often tend to mobilise joints as they are not usually trained in joint manipulation. However, in recent years many physiotherapists are being taught manipulation. Chiropractors typically manipulate joints but they also choose to mobilise them, particularly in older, fragile or more acute patients.

Whilst I didn’t learn any new techniques this time, I thought it was a valuable experience to share with my patients.

The Stretching Myth

The Stretching Myth

The real reasons why muscle stretching helps your body, and how to do it properly

Stretching before activity is great for you, but not for the reasons you might think.

When you stretch a muscle, you increase the length of the muscle to the point where you feel that balance between pain and a pleasure. Generally, people think that stretching helps with flexibility. However, unless you held a stretch for an extremely long time (5 mins), and did this on a regular basis, (twice daily, 7 x /week), it’s unlikely you will change a muscle’s resting length.

To help understand how flexibility is improved, think of the saying, “Use it, or lose it.” During exercise you are required to move your limbs into positions that require full lengthening of the muscles. The more regularly you exercise and the more varied the activities are, the more your muscles are required to adapt both in strength and flexibility.

In other words, if you use your muscles a lot, your body will continue to invest resources into these structures. Think of these resources at a cellular level, more muscle fibres making the muscles grow longer and stronger. Ask yourself, is there any point in investing resources into muscles which sit at desks all day?

Of course, there is always a trade-off between flexibility and strength. If you just did weights workouts all the time, you might get so bulky that the extra muscle mass actually obstructs some ranges of motion. For example, your biceps might grow so big that you could not touch your right shoulder with your right hand.

Whilst this is an unlikely scenario for most people, the point is to vary your exercise regime. People who run four times per week would increase the benefits of their exercise exponentially simply by substituting the fourth run for either a sprint session or a weights workout. The change in routine enables the muscles to become more versatile in their functioning. This partly explains why people who consider themselves active individuals are still prone to muscle injuries.

The body builder packs his week with squats, curls and presses – maximising strength. By comparison, the ballerina mixes her routine with activities demanding a balance between core strength, cardiovascular fitness and functional strength – maximising athletic ability. What would you prefer?

Stretching your muscles is recommended before exercise as it primes the muscles with blood. Blood delivers the food that muscles use to function. Without it, the muscles are likely to tear during activity. However, before you start stretching rather spend five minutes jogging very slowly. This is a better way of priming your body with blood as it gets the heart pumping quicker than what stretching does. Also, because you are not required to lengthen your muscles all that much when jogging, there is less chance you will irritate your muscles doing this, than there is during stretching.

flexibility

The goals of stretching before activity should be to prepare your body for what is about to come. Dynamic stretching is a term used to describe gentle-to-moderate swinging and bouncing motions for warming up muscles. For example, leg swings, walking lunges or shoulder circles. These stretches aim to imitate the activities you are about to perform at higher intensity.

Once you have finished exercising, your body is very warm and you should cool it down gradually. Ever put a hot glass cup straight into the freezer? Sometimes it will crack when you do this. If you have just finished a sprinting session or an intense sporting match, cool down with a long walk and some static stretching. Static stretching is what most people are familiar with ” stretch and hold for 10-30 seconds. In this way, your muscles are less likely to injure next time you use them.

Next time you exercise, spare a thought for your muscles. If you prepare them properly before activity, they will function more efficiently and you can prevent injury. Ask your health professional for more tips on how to maximise your performance through pre and post stretching.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.