Objective: Some doctors and therapists believe that wearing high-heeled shoes causes increased lumbar lordosis and that this may be a cause of low back pain. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether high-heeled shoes increase lumbar lordosis and to do so with more reliable methods and a larger sample size than used in previous studies.
Methods: Fifty participants from a chiropractic university were included in a test group (32 female and 18 male) and 9 in a control group (3 female and 6 male). A Spinal Mouse was used to measure lumbar lordosis in test participants barefoot and then again with 3- or 4-in high-heeled shoes after a 10-minute adaptation period of walking and sitting and standing while wearing the shoes. Reliability of the testing conditions was evaluated with 9 barefoot control participants before and after an identical adaptation period, and intra- and interexaminer reliability of Spinal Mouse measurements was tested by use of a wooden model built to mimic the proportions of a human spine.
Results: Both groups showed non-significant decreases in lordosis between the first and second scans (high heels: 23.4° to 22.8°, P = .17; control: 18.8° to 17.6°, P = .16). Scans of the wooden spine model were highly reliable (intra- and interexaminer intraclass correlation coefficients > .999).
Conclusions: Consistent with most previous studies, high-heeled shoes did not affect lumbar lordosis in most people while standing. Future research could investigate the effect of shoes during dynamic conditions or identify affected subgroups.
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