Posture – How do high heels affect it and how can Osteopathy help?

Footy Season is finally over, bringing us into the Spring Racing Season. High heels will be a necessity for those wanting to make a statement. Those familiar with Fashions on the Fields are probably also familiar with toddling home on achy feet… but high heels can have a far greater impact on your body. As Osteopaths, we continually see the affect on posture and lower limb mechanics from common high heel shoe.

Here’s a quick look at what happens to your posture from the ground up!



  • While walking, the foot will spread to distribute the weight it is carrying across multiple joints but, in high heels, the weight is mostly distributed across the balls of the feet and toes
  • Your toes extend and spread to support your weight but become crowded leading to blisters, bunions or hammertoes (semi-permanent flexure of the toe to increase space)
  • The weight of your body pushes the bones at the ball of your foot into cushioning soft tissues, creating pain and inflammation on the main support structures, which can lead to bursitis or plantar fasciitis


  • Positioned in plantar flexion (pointed), in prime posture for spraining or fracturing the joint


  • Your knee bends to accommodate for the heel coming off the ground, forcing more pressure into the inside portion of the joint and creating more friction behind your knee cap. Some studies suggest this could predispose to osteoarthritis of the knee [1]

Low back

  • Natural lordosis curve of your low back becomes more curved (lordotic) to compensate, changing the spinal posture and having a run on effect up to your neck and the base of your skull
  • The muscles at the back of your body (namely the calves, hamstrings, glutes, low back erector spinae muscles) contract and tighten to stop you from falling forward, which can result in fatigue and overuse injuries



  • Choose high heels with a lower impact on your posture
  • Lower heel height puts less pressure on your forefoot
  • Wider heels can distribute your weight more evenly
  • Secure your heel to the shoe (ie. avoid sling-blacks or poor-fitting footwear)
  • If you still want some extra height, platform shoes are a stylish alternative to high heels. Your body still experiences the heel strike as you walk and your weight is distributed more evenly.

– If you wear orthotics, try to find footwear that can accommodate them. Check out Bared Footwear for stylish shoes designed by podiatrists

– Foam rolling your calves can help pre/post-wearing heels, check out our blog on foam rolling your calves

Want more advice about appropriate footwear? Make sure to book an appointment to see one of our Osteopaths or Myotherapist today.


1 Titchenal, M., Asay, J., Favre, J., Andriacchi, T. and Chu, C. (2018). Effects of high heel wear and increased weight on the knee during walking. Available at:


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