High Heels Hurt - But They Also Alter the Way You Walk
The long-term use of high heels can cause permanent damage to calf muscles and compromise muscle efficiency in walking, according to a new study.
As reported by the New York Times, postdoctoral researcher Neil J. Cronin and his colleagues at the Musculoskeletal Research Program at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia invited nine high-heel wearers to participate in a study on the effects of habitual high-heel use. They also enlisted the help of 10 women who said they rarely wore heels.
The study participants varied in age from late teens to early 30s. Members of the heel-wearing group had all worn high heels for at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of 2 years. The control group participants said they wore heels for less than 10 hours a week.
Participants were asked to tread across a 26-foot walkway over level ground while ultrasound probes, electrodes and motion-capture markers measured muscle and joint activity, among other factors. The control group walked barefoot and women in the other group wore high heels.
The study, published last week in The Journal of Applied Physiology, found that the high-heel wearers walked with shorter, more forceful steps while activating their muscles rather than their tendons. This compromise left them susceptible to injury, discomfort and muscle fatigue, the researchers said.
The authors said that long-term high heel use may also heighten the risk of strain injuries, the New York Times reports.
Cronin told the New York Times that stiletto lovers can protect themselves from future injury by only wearing high heels once or twice a week. He also noted that women can moderate their use by removing their high heels while sitting at their desks, walking to work and driving cars.