A Scientific Look at the Perils of High Heels

They may make your legs look nice, but are they worth it?

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| January 26th, 2012

Not only do heel-wearers have a less efficient gait, but they are also at an increased risk of straining the calf muscle, which is three times higher when sporting our beloved pumps regularly.

This same risk continues even after ditching our heels. In other words, toggling from heels to sneakers when hitting the gym after work could be a dangerous thing. Our calf muscles and tendons are “set” into a shorter, heel-wearing state, and putting them into flat shoes forces additional strain on them.

MORE: Tips to Avoid Fitness Injuries

So what’s a stiletto/wedge/pump-loving girl to do?

Aside from switching to shorter heels or flats, Cronin advises that we wear them just once or twice a week. And when our feet are squished, we mean, adorned in heels, we should try to remove them as much as possible, like when we’re sitting at our desk.

Oh, and if you’ve worn heels for years and are now afraid of permanent damage to your calves and feet, Cronin says don’t be.

“We know that the muscles and tendons can respond to changes in the way they are loaded over long periods of time (which is what happens when they wear heels for a long time). As long as there is no permanent structural damage, the changes due to wearing heels for a long time may be reversible.”

When in doubt though, take your cues from Oprah: She carries her heels onto the stage, slips them on only when sitting, and then takes them off again to walk off stage. Chances are, she doesn’t have short calf muscles!

MORE: Other Ways to Care for Your Feet



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