High Heels Can Lead To Osteoarthritis and Altered Posture

August 4, 2010

While stylish, wearing high heels may cause some serious joint issues in the long run, according to a study from Iowa State University.

While stylish, wearing high heels may cause some serious joint issues in the long run, according to a study from Iowa State University.

The study, performed by ISU kinesiology master student Danielle Barkema, researched the effects of high-heeled walking on forces acting on lower extremity joints.

"Obviously with research like this, you can't say with any certainty that if you wear high heels regularly you will develop osteoarthritis. We don't know that," Barkema said, in a press release. "There are probably people [high heel wearers] who do and those who do not. However, based on this information, wearing high heels puts individuals at greater risk for developing osteoarthritis. And it seems to be that the higher the heel height, the greater the risk."

For the study, Barkema evaluated three different high heel heights: flat, two inches, and 3.5 inches. There were 15 female subjects and each completed walking trials with the different height heels. Barkema measured the forces acting on the knee join and the heel strike-induced shock wave that travels up the body when walking in heels.

The team found that heel height changes walking characteristics such as slower speeds and shorter stride lengths. The higher the heel the more compression experienced on the inside of the knee as well.

"This means that prolonged wearing and walking in heels could, over time, contribute to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis," Barkema said, in a press release.

The higher the heel the greater the risk as well. The team additionally found that wearing heals that wer two inches or higher can alter body posture by changing joint positions and strain the lower back