The Science in High Heels….

Girls we all know when there is a formal party, we love to strap on those super cute high heels.  This is an essential for any short girl, at least for me because I am 5’2.  Heels tend to make our feet hurt after wearing them for a long period of time, but we still wear them anyway.  So what is the science behind high heels?  Is wearing high heels affecting our health?

High Heels pay a toll on women’s spine, hips, knees, ankles, feet, posture, and gait. A study was conducted showing the affects of heels on your body.  First, lets get some facts straight:

The Spine Health Institute (Florida Hospital Medical Group) claims,

  • Percentage of women who wore heels at some point: 72%
  • 77% of women wear heels for special occasions
  • 50% wear them for parties
  • 33% wear them for dancing
  • 31% wear them to work

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(picture by the Spine Center Altamonte)

Researchers discovered that high heels actually “alter the natural position of the foot-ankle complex, and thereby produce a chain reaction of effects that travel up the lower limb at least as far as the spine.” heels create acute and chronic effects that impact women’s balance.  

Another study was conducted with women in school to be flight attendants, in South Korea.  If you have ever been on a plane, you probably have seen female flight attendants in some sort of heel.  This is a four year school, thus, ten women from each grade level participated in this experiment.  The students were tested on “balance boards and computerized exercise machines”. Jee Yong-Seok, the professor of exercise physiology at Hanseo University, led this study.  The freshman, were the control so to speak because they have just began wearing heels; therefore, they did not have any change in their feet or balance.  Moving on to the sophomores and juniors who were wearing heels for a longer time, their feet showed that “wearing high heeled shoes may at first lead to adaptation and increased strength,….upperclass women had worse balance than the freshmen, even as some of their muscles were strengthening. (Yong-Seok 2015). You may think, if wearing heels make your feet and ankle stronger, then we should wear them more often.  You are actually wrong to think this way because the study does not end there.  Finally, the seniors were tested and the results showed weakening in their joints and muscles around the ankle.  Dr. Yong-Seok claims,”the ratio of strength between the muscles on the sides of the ankles and those at the front and back became increasingly unbalanced over years of wearing heels, contributing to ankle instability and balance problems and eventually to a decline in the strength even of those muscles that had been stronger for awhile.”

This study, as compelling as it is, lacks a large group of randomized women.  More than forty women should be tested to make conclusive results.  Also, women all over the world should be tested, to eliminate a third variable.  What if the shoes are not causal to the muscles and ankles worsening, but an environmental factor is present?

With the facts presented we can assume, 99%, that the shoes are a direct causation to the worsening balance and the muscle changes.  High Heels do affect women, after long periods of time, so do not be discouraged from wearing heels once in awhile.  If you wear heels everyday, you may want to rethink that decision if your concerned with your health. 

But do not worry, science has not abandoned us, there are solutions to help ease or limit the pain. 

After reading these articles, I will be wearing heels only when I need to: during a party, wedding, or my future career. Let’s save our feet from short term aching and long term effects by reducing our heel wearing today.  

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(picture by the Spine Center Altamonte)

4 thoughts on “The Science in High Heels….

  1. Pingback: The Truth About High Heels and Confidence | fbomb

  2. Caroline Rose Ackiewicz

    While high heels can be bad for your feet, other shoes such as flats and flip flops can cause problems as well. My mother has a condition called Plantar Fasciitis. This condition basically causes servere pain in the heel and wearing shoes like flats and flip flops can worsen the pain, because they offer little support. So, heels aren’t the only shoes that can cause problem for your feet.

  3. Elisa B Jones

    As I looked deeper into the science of wearing high heels, it surprised me to find out that every inch of heel height can put another 25 percent of your body weight onto your forefoot. I am a high heel lover, so for me to see that high heels can damage your health saddened me. I was happy to find out that I don’t have to stop wearing heels all together. I found through your blog and through http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/high-heels that lowering my heel size could lessen the impact high heels has on joints, muscles, backs and much more. I, being a heel lover, love to wear heels 3 inches and higher. But after reading this blog post I will begin to decrease my heel size, which would increase my health. Being a high heel lover means that I will probably not stop wearing heels, but I will begin to use these suggestions and put smaller heels into affect.

  4. Shunyi Yu

    I like wearing high heels, and maybe it’s about cultural, I think more much more Asian girls like wearing high heels than western girls. I guess maybe it’s because we are fairly shorter. After wearing high heels walking for a long time, when I get home and take off my shoes, it’s dizzy and hard for me to stand straight. It hurts a lot. And after reading this article, I will reduce the amount of time that I wear high heels and wear more sneaker. Thanks for also giving us high heel solutions.

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