Study on high heels concludes long-term problems

January 26, 2012 6:21:49 AM PST
It's a turbulent relationship for some of women. We love them, but they don't always love us back. We're talking about high heels.

"I love them, but in the city it's really hard to be cute in heels," Kingsbridge resident Liza Goncalbas said. "So I managed to find the most amazing shoes. They're still high, they're flat and comfortable. I look cute and it doesn't hurt my feet."

"I don't own sneakers, maybe for the gym," Bensonhurst resident Vanessa Ramirez said. "Flats maybe. But I love my heels. I can walk miles."

Australian researchers thought that the high heels looked uncomfortable and unstable, so they conducted a study. The scientists recruited nine women who wore high heels at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of two years. Ten other women who rarely, if ever, wore heels served as controls.

"They compared how they walked both with and without shoes on a 26-foot walkway," said Dr. Claudette Lajam, an orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Medical Center. "They used electrodes and presser plates on the ground to see the kinds of muscles they recruited and the way they walked."

The researchers studied women in their late teens, 20s and early 30s, then published their findings in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

"Even when they were barefoot, they walked differently," Dr. Lajam said. "They had shorter and more forceful strides pushing down onto the toes."

Doctors agree your best bet is get out of the heels to avoid muscle and joint strains.

"The conclusion is women who wear high heels all the time are affecting the way they walk and affecting and shortening the muscles in the back of the calf," Dr. Lajam said.

If wearing heels less often just doesn't work for you, try taking them off whenever you can, like when you're sitting behind a desk and people can't admire the stilettos anyway.

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