How wearing high heels affects your leg muscles

5 Mar

Below is an article reprinted from You may want to re-think your choice of shoes before you head out the door.

x-ray of how your foot looks in a heel

( — You may want to think twice before strapping on those sky-high Manolos.

A new study shows that regularly wearing high heels can cause muscle and tendon changes in your legs — to the point where wearing flats or flip-flops can be painful.

Wearing two-inch heels (or higher) five or more days a week shrinks a woman’s calf muscle fibers by 13 percent, on average. It also thickens her Achilles tendon — which attaches the calf muscle to the heel — by 22 percent, according to the study, which was published Thursday in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

These changes alter the resting position of the ankle, causing the foot to point down more than normal. For some habitual high-heel wearers, this can make switching from stilettos to flats a shock, says the lead author of the study, Robert Csapo, a doctoral candidate at the University of Vienna’s Centre of Sport Sciences and University Sports, in Austria.

“Whenever women regularly wearing high heels stand or walk in flat shoes or barefoot, the calf muscles and tendons are placed at relatively longer length,” says Csapo. “This stretches and increases the tension in the muscles and tendons, [causing] discomfort.”

Fortunately, only die-hard fashionistas appear to be at risk. Discomfort “will primarily occur in women wearing almost exclusively high-heeled shoes,” says Csapo. In the study, the women who experienced pain wore heels for an average of about 60 hours a week.


If you’re experiencing pain in your feet, call East Penn Foot And Ankle Associates today for a diagnosis.

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