High heels: warning of danger

Wearing high heels modifies our posture, but doesn’t it become dangerous when these modifications affect tendons, muscles and bones? Some scientific studies give some pieces of information.
Danger of high heels

It is well-known that high heels make the shape longer and harmoniously curve the calves. But, in addition to their considerable reputation, they’re also a matter of controversy. Do heeled shoes favour musculoskeletal disorders? What consequences do they have on our body?


A bit of biomechanics

Wearing high heels (more than 5cm) not only modifies the gait but also the entire posture. By significantly raising heels, the body weight is transferred on the forefoot. As a consequence, there are higher pressures in this area. Then the foot curve increases, what modifies the forces on the tendons, muscles and joints. Finally, when walking, flexion of the knee is significant and implies additional forces in the patellofemoral and tibiofemoral joints.


Frequent musculoskeletal disorders

Many studies emphasize the link between high heels and musculoskeletal disorders. Most of them show foot deformities (hallux valgus or bunion, corns, calluses , etc.), ankle and foot conditions.


A study that measures physiological reactions

Kamal MEZIAN and his co-workers have measured the thickness of the distal femoral cartilage (knee), of the Achilles tendon (back of the foot) and of the plantar fascia of two groups of women. The first group included 34 women regularly wearing high heels (heel > 5cm) for at least 2 years, 5 days per week and 5 hours in a row or more. The second group included 54 women wearing flat shoes (heel < 1.4 cm). Measures were recorded by ultrasound(1).

The outcomes of this study show an increased thickness of the Achilles tendon and the cartilage of the medial condyle in the group wearing high heels. In this same group, women also presented calcaneal spurs compared with women wearing flat shoes. It concluded that the body adapts to the stresses caused by heeled shoes.

Frequently wearing high heels modifies the posture and imposes modifications of tendons, fascia, bones (calcaneus or heel bone) and cartilage . These modifications are not insignificant and change the position of the body. As a consequence, they are likely to favour the development of certain conditions.


What solutions to limit deformities and reduce foot and knee pain ?

EPITACT®, podiatric and orthopaedic care specialist, has developed silicone orthoses to reduce knee pain and rubbing against the feet.

In the case of pain related to early bunion or hallux valgus, several solutions exist. Our braces aim to properly distribute pressures, to reduce frictions and to realign the big toe. Discover our set of medical devices intended to slow down the progression of your bunion HERE.

Wearing high heels can also favour plantar pain. If it’s your case, opt for the plantar cushions* to strengthen plantar fat pad and avoid calluses . Also, EPITACT® provides solutions for knee pain . If you’re suffering from patellofemoral osteoarthritis or patellar syndrome , our braces will improve your comfort.


*These products are class I medical devices that bear the CE marking under this regulation. Carefully the instructions before use. Manufacturer: Millet Innovation. 09/2021


For more details about this general and simplified approach, here are further sources:

(1)Mezian, K., Ata, A. M., Kara, M., Şahin Onat, Ş., Gürçay, E., Çalışkan, A., ... & Franchignoni, F. (2019). Ultrasonographic Evaluation of the Femoral Cartilage, Achilles Tendon, and Plantar Fascia in Young Women Wearing High‐Heeled Shoes. PM&R, 11(6), 613-618.

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