do-highIt’s something that “everyone” knows. High heels are bad for your back. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the thing that everyone knows may not be completely true. In some cases, high heels may actually help back pain.

If that sounds counter intuitive to you, you’re not alone. After all, you’ve probably heard just the opposite at least a thousand times. The reality is a bit more complex. In some cases, high heels can actually put your spine into better alignment, which takes pressure off of the nerves, reducing pain.

This does not, however, mean that you should rush out tomorrow to buy several pairs of heels. While it’s true that it might help in some cases, those are pretty strong qualifiers. Further, wearing heels can cause other types of pain, or make them worse. Generally, this pain starts in your feet, and can spread to your calves, thighs, and hips. In addition to that, wearing heels for an extended period of time can cause “hammer toe,” which can be intensely painful.

If you suffer from back pain, chronic or otherwise, the best choice in terms of footwear is a flat shoe, unless there’s a specific need for a shoe with additional support. If you like high heels, consider them like your favorite dessert item. It’s okay to wear them once in a while, but consider it to be something of a “cheat day,” and not something you should wear all the time.

The other big thing to consider where shoes are concerned making sure they’re properly sized. Studies show that a shocking 88% of women knowingly wear a shoe that is too small, which can cause or worsen pain, and increase the likelihood of injury long term.

The bottom line is that high heels seldom directly cause or worsen back pain, despite what you may have heard. In some specific cases, they can actually be good for your spinal alignment, but because of the other problems they cause, they’re not recommended.