High Heels or Not?

Apr 2, 2013


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High Heels or Not? Bonne-FoiWomen love their Jimmy Choo’s. The higher the better if you subscribe to the fashion sense of movie stars on the red carpet. But have you ever worn that type of shoe? I have. Well maybe not really high heels like they have out now, but certainly the 4 inch heels that have been around forever. As I have ages, I notice those shoes have become less comfortable than when I was younger.

I have also noticed that even when I wear tennis shoes, or flats, my feet and calves still feel the effects of having worn heels for so very long. Heels are a big fashion statement for women. They are beautiful, they elongate the look of our legs; they make our calf muscles look spectacular, but are they really worth it?

A group of Australian scientists conducted a study of a cross section of women in their teens, 20’s and 30’s who wore heels for at least 40 hours a week. They also enlisted women of the same ages who never wore heels, and conducted tests to see if the women who wore heels walked differently than those who did not. What they found could change your mind about wearing those beautiful, uncomfortable shoes every day..

This article, published in the NY Times, shows what affect the heels had on the women:

The scientists asked the heel-wearing women to bring their favorite pair of high-heeled shoes to the lab. There, both groups of women were equipped with electrodes to track leg-muscle activity, as well as motion-capture reflective markers. Ultrasound probes measured the length of muscle fibers in their legs.

All of the women strode multiple times along a 26-foot-long walkway that contained a plate to gauge the forces generated as they walked. The control group covered the walkway 10 times while barefoot. The other women walked barefoot 10 times and in their chosen heels 10 times.

It was obvious, as the scientists had suspected watching the woman during their coffee break that the women habituated to high heels walked differently from those who usually wore flats, even when the heel wearers went barefoot. But the nature and extent of the differences were surprising. In results published last week in The Journal of Applied Physiology, the scientists found that heel wearers moved with shorter, more forceful strides than the control group, their feet perpetually in a flexed, toes-pointed position. This movement pattern continued even when the women kicked off their heels and walked barefoot. As a result, the fibers in their calf muscles had shortened and they put much greater mechanical strain on their calf muscles than the control group did.”

My massage therapist had already explained something like this to me when I went to her complaining of leg and back pain. While I now only wear high heels on special occasion, and sometimes not even then. The shortened tendons in my calves will never go back to the way they were before I wore those high heels for years.

Fashion is wonderful. We at Bonne Foi love fashion and good style. At the same time we also value natural and healthy ways to live our lives. So enjoy your beautiful, high fashioned shoes. Just don’t wear them all the time. Alternate between high heels and a two inch kitten heels. If you are going to do a lot of walking, slip a pair of walking shoes in your bag and wear those instead.

Bonne Foi