Opting for the thousand braids hairstyle, popularly known as “Gari” meant I would have my braids completed over a two -day period at the salon but I cared less.This protective hairstyle has been on my hairstyle list since last year but I have not had the courage to do it looking at its time consuming nature so I decided to have it done at all cost two weeks ago at a salon I have been visiting for the past 7 and half years.
When I got to the salon, the hairdresser’s friend had visited and they were having a chat while she was braiding my hair.
During the conversation, the visitor made a statement that struck me so hard that I could not resist truncating their chat to pose a question.
“So you mean, you had a major spinal injury which left you partially incapacitated as a result of wearing high heels?” I busted out surprisingly and she responded in the affirmative.
I booked an interview with her on the day two of my visit to the salon to complete the rest of my braids.
The lady who only mentioned her name as Auntie Nancy started wearing high heels at age 6 until one day at around age 35, when she started experiencing lower back pain.
Pains that would mark the genesis of hefty financial commitments to health care and daily commute to the hospital.
“I started wearing high heels at age of 6 to church, party and for all occasions I should say. The only footwear I knew was high heels – I never wore flats,” she recounted rather bitterly.
“When I was a kid my dad used to send me high heels from abroad and I enjoyed wearing them and it became worse when I started modeling by age twenty. I was very good with modeling and I modeled for the likes of Ricky Osei (Reggie Rockston’s father) and the late Kofi Ansah- a renowned fashion designer in the 80’s,” she added.
She stepped out every day in high heels and could wear it throughout the day to the extent that it felt like wearing flip-flops, very comfortable.
“I felt comfortable, okay and I looked smart in them and I was happy then”
Auntie Nancy ended her addiction to high heels at age 35 when she started experiencing severe lower back pain which she said doctors diagnosed as spondylosis.
This condition also meant giving up her modeling profession and seeking for health care.
“Now that I have moved from wearing heels to flats, I walk stupidly because I was so used to wearing high heels,” she averred.
“Imagine yourself walking on your toes everyday for many years, that is what you do when you wear high heels,”
- Dr Naa Asheley Dordor, Nova Wellness Centre
The pain and the bills
When the pain started, she had no information about the spine so she took it as a normal back pain till it became severe.
“I couldn’t sit for five minutes, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stand for 10 minutes. I get restless, and the pain kept escalating”
She started hopping from one hospital to another although the bills were very expensive and it took longer period than expected to see improvement in her health.
“My X-ray looked like someone who had had a motor accident, it is seriously curved,”
“Currently, I am paying over GH¢10,000 for the healthcare I am receiving now and that is even with a discount for 80 sessions which I started last year,” she also said.
Apart from that she pays GH¢150 weekly for one hospital session for adjustment.
“Because I couldn’t model, I moved into training models but I had to quit because it became difficult to stand on my feet and facilitate training models for an hour – I stopped working totally.
Advice from her experience
Women should avoid wearing high heels for longer periods and should resort to the platform heels and wedges which offer a bit of support.
Women should totally avoid 6 inches and pencil heels.
Women should take of heels intermittently while wearing it.
Women commuting long distances could keep their high heels in their bags and only wear them when they get to their destinations.
Women should consider their weight in choosing shoe types.
“Imagine yourself walking on your toes everyday for many years, that is what you do when you wear high heels,” Dr Naa Asheley Dordor of Nova Wellness Centre said, explaining the relationship between high heels and back pain in an interview with africanpostonline.com.
Dr Dordor noted that when you walk on your toes, your knee naturally bends to compensate and this leads to back pain and discomfort, adding that, anything more than 4 inches puts an enormous pressure on the spine.
The disk in between the vertebrae and the spine, she pointed out will start to thin out or degenerate leading to arthritis of the spine.
She adds that most women who wore high heels when they were young ended up with toe, back and knee pain in their 50’s and 60’s.
The problem with heels is that it changes biomechanics and as the biomechanics of the ankles and feet change, it causes stress up the kinetic chain, Dr James F.Geiselman, Doctorate of Chiropractor with icliniq also told africanpostonline in an interview.
“I do not recommend women to wear heels. Ideally women should wear shoes with good support”
“Unfortunately, with wearing of heels being a cultural issue, women either have to decide to wear heels and deal with back pain or avoid wearing heels and prevent back pain altogether,” he emphasized.
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