High Heels Have Future Health Costs

Those sexy high heels are hard on women’s ankles, knees and hips.  Despite the sexy and powerful image that high heels have thanks to such television programs as “Sex and the City”, there is a serious downside to wearing the shoes.  The damage can go well beyond blisters and tends to occur primarily in the ankle, knee and hip, according to a new study by the American Society of Biomechanics.

In a study conducted by Danielle Barkema, a masters kinesiology student at the University of Iowa, 15 female volunteers walked around the laboratory on a special platform designed to measure their joints’ motions and the forces acting upon them.  Sensors and motion cameras documented the force and pressure in the women’s legs when they wore flats, 2-inch heels and 3 ½-in heels.  As a result of the study, Barkema determined that knees and ankles absorb the most pressure.  The higher the heel, the greater is the compression inside the knee.  This creates joint pain and strain, according to Barkema.  Wearing heels also changed the women’s posture, forcing their ankles, knees and hips into unnatural positions that boosted their risk for future joint degeneration and osteoarthritis.

Although Barkema doesn’t think women should give up wearing heels, she thinks they should not be worn all the time.  “It’s pretty difficult to tell your friends not to wear high heels,” Barkema said.  “Just try to limit yourself as much as possible and not wear them every single day.”

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