High Heels May Cause Joint, Knee Problems

AMES, Iowa, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Prolonged wearing of high heels can contribute to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis, Iowa State University kinesiology researchers say.

Danielle Barkema, a graduate student, and kinesiology Professor Phil Martin used three heel heights — flat, 2-inch heels and 3.5-inch heels — and had each of 15 women complete walking trials.


Barkema measured the forces acting on the knee joint and the heel strike-induced shock wave that travels up the body when walking in heels using sensors, accelerometers and lab equipment involving cameras to capture motion and force data.

The researchers find heel height changes can result in slower speeds and shorter stride lengths. In addition, as the heels got higher, they saw an increase in the compression on the inside of the knee.

“This means that prolonged wearing and walking in heels could, over time, contribute to joint degeneration and knee osteoarthritis,” Barkema said in a statement.

“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.”

However, with research like this, you can’t say with any certainty that those who wear high heels regularly will develop osteoarthritis, Barkema adds.

The findings are to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics Aug. 18-21, at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

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