I have always been warned that wearing high heels, especially tall ones, is bad for your feet. Although it has never has stopped me from wearing heels, and it hasn’t stopped millions of women around the globe from wearing them as well.
Results published in last month’s Journal of Applied Physiology, suggest that wearing heels for an extended amount of time changes the actual mechanics of how women walk.
Scientists from University of Jyvaskyla in Finland examined the muscles of the leg and foot in both avid and occasional heel wearers. According to the report, the test group of the study consisted of nine habitual high-heeled wearing-women who had worn shoes with a minimum heel height of five centimeters. They wore the heel at least 40 hours per week for a minimum of two years. The control group consisted of 10 participants who wore heels for less than 10 hours per week.
People who wore heels walked with shorter and more forceful strides than the control group and their feet were always in a flexed, toes-pointed position. This type of movement continued even when the women walked barefoot. As a result, there is greater strain on their calf muscles than on those of the control group.
According to the New York Times article titled “A Scientific Look at the Dangers of High Heels”, Dr. Cronin a researcher at the University of Jyvaskyla said “heel wearers walk less efficiently with or without heels, requiring more energy to cover the same amount of ground as people in flats and probably causing muscle fatigue.”
Dr. Cronin also said that risks of wearing heels can effect workouts, when women “abruptly” switch to gym shoes.
“In a person who wears heels most of her working week,” Dr. Cronin told the New York Times. “[The foot and leg positioning in heels] becomes the new default position for the joints and the structures within.” Any chance to this default setting could increase injury risk.
This isn’t the only study done on the effect of the use of heels on the muscles and foot. In fact there have been many over the years advising women to think twice before wearing heels to work every day. But has that changed anything? No.
There are still women who wear heels everyday of the week. Whether to increase height or complete an outfit, it seems that there will always be a reason to wear heels.
But with studies showing that habitually wearing heels puts you risk for injury and poor muscle health, maybe it’s about time we change our ways.
Is a cute outfit with heels really necessary all the time? I can’t speak for everyone, but personally I would like to be in good health, active and quick on my feet even when I’m 80 years old. If there is a chance that wearing heels too often today will put a stunt on how active I can be and increase injury risk, then I don’t think it’s worth it.
Of course there will always be that outfit or that dress that I have to wear heels, and I still will. But once I have a full-time job I’ll be sure to leave the heels at home.