Effects of High-Heeled Shoes on Lumbar Lordosis

(From the November 2010 “The Scope” – By Steven T. Tanaka, DC)

Russell BS. The Effects of High-Heeled Shoes on Lumbar Lordosis: A Narrative Review and Discussion of the Disconnect Between Internet Content and Peer-Reviewed Literature. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine 2010; 9:pre-publication e-article.

ABSTRACT: Objectives: Some women complain of low back pain that they believe is due to wearing high- heeled shoes, and some clinicians seem to think the reason is that high-heeled shoes cause increased lumbar lordosis. This article examines Internet information aimed at the general public and presents a literature review of available research in this area. Methods: The keywords high heels and high-heeled shoes, combined with the words lumbar, lordosis, and pelvic tilt, were used in an Internet search of Ask.com; in published literature searches of PubMed, MANTIS, CINAHL, Scopus, and ProceedingsFirst; and in searches for theses and dissertations of PapersFirst through June 2010. Results: There are many Internet sites that support the belief that high-heeled shoes cause increased lordosis. However, published research for this topic does not support this belief for the most part; but some mixed results, small subject groups, and questionable methods have left the issue unclear. Conclusions: It appears that some health care providers are offering advice about the effect of high-heeled shoes on lumbar lordosis that conflicts with most published research. However, the prevalence of such advice is unknown; and the published research is equivocal. Considering that both low back pain and the wearing of high heeled-shoes are common, clinicians could use some clearer guidance; this is an area that deserves further investigation.

COMMENTS: Studies on this topic used external measurements, not imaging measurements. So the measurements are suspect. Some studies noted a loss of lumbar curve with high-heeled shoes. No studies were found that measured the effects on knees, hips, musculature, etc.