Wearing high-heeled shoes long-term imposes substantial amounts of strain on leg muscles, a recent study found. The study was done by researchers from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland and Griffith University in Australia.
Previous studies have found that high heels increase Achilles tendon (heel tendon) stiffness.
In this study, the researchers examined muscle and tendon activity in the leg muscles of women while they walked with and without high-heeled shoes. One group of the participants had been wearing heels at or above 2 inches (5 cm) for at least 40 hours per week for two years or more, while another group wore heels for less than 10 hours per week.
Comparing the two groups, the researchers found that the group in the habit of wearing heels “had experienced chronic adaptations in muscle-tendon architecture related to [high heel] use,” they wrote in their paper.
“Adaptations due to long-term [high heel] use may compromise muscle efficiency in both barefoot and high heeled walking.”
The study also found that these participants’ muscles had significantly more strain and shorter step lengths when they walked in heels than when they walked barefoot.
“The results suggest that long-term high heel use may compromise muscle efficiency in walking, and are consistent with reports that [high-heel] wearers often experience discomfort and muscle fatigue,” the researchers wrote.
“Long-term [high heel] use may also increase the risk of strain injuries.”
Read the research paper here.