by Erik Dalton, Ph.D.
Last week while flipping TV channels, I happened to catch some interesting gossip from a cheesy entertainment show reporting that Stefani Germanotta, aka Lady Gaga, was being treated for low-back pain at a local physical therapy clinic. This uniquely talented, five-time Grammy Award winner and self- proclaimed “high heeled queen of sheen” has probably done more to mess up low backs than anyone since Mike Tyson. So, here she is at the ripe age of 25 suffering back spasm.
Although high heels have been in and out of vogue since Catherine of Medici invented them in Paris, France, in the 16th century, I’ve always been puzzled by the strange attraction to body height— which figures, since I was always the tall one in class. I’d somehow missed the point, so I decided to pose the question to my wife. She said, “Erik, some women would grow their toenails long and walk on them if they thought it’d make them look sexier.”
That answer certainly didn’t settle my curiosity, so I searched online for some fashion-magazine photos of high-heeled ladies, studied the postures and finally arrived at three seemingly logical visual advantages gained from wearing high heels: curvier hips and amore prominent buttock occur due to exaggerated lumbar lordosis; legs appear longer and leaner as the thoracic spine hyperextends to compensate for the swayed low back; and the female chest becomes more prominent as the shoulder girdle is driven back by the hyperextended thorax.