Who doesn’t love the way their legs look in heels? Unfortunately, we all know the damage they can do not only to our feet, but also to our backs and the rest of our body. Instead of suffering for fashion, many of us opt to wear wedges, which give us the same height with more support. But are they really better for our feet, back and bodies than heels? We asked two experts their opinions, and here’s what they had to say.
“The idea that ‘any heel is bad’ is urban myth,” says Dr. James Amis, a practicing orthopedic surgeon in Cincinnati, Ohio and the inventor of the One Stretch. “Wedges can actually relax the gastrocnemius (or calf muscle) a bit, which in turn reduces the linked tension on the plantar fascia. In most cases, my patients will experience short-term pain relief for their foot and/or ankle ailments when wearing a wedge shoe compared to high heels.”
Dan Cerone, a coach in NYC with a Master’s degree in human performance which focuses on biomechanics, kinesiology, and exercise physiology, agrees that wedges are better for a woman–if only a bit. “Wedges are slightly better for low back pain when compared to heels because they have a greater base of support and are generally not as high of a lift,” he says. “The issue with heels is that they have a very narrow base of support and are high up which shifts a women’s center of mass forward. To compensate for this, one hyperextends their lumbar spine so they don’t fall forward, which leads to lower back pain. Wedges distribute the weight more evenly between the front and back of the body and aren’t as high up.”
[Photo: Urban Outfitters]