Women who wear stiletto heels whenever they can are doing even greater damage to their bodies than previously thought, research shows.

Their penchant for high heels sees an increased load on their toes, which in turn alters foot shape and gait patterns, resulting in lordosis (swayback) and back pain, and shortening achilles tendons and stride length.

In addition, the latest evidence suggests high heels significantly affect ankle strength.

Stiletto wearers are inadvertently causing an imbalance of four functional ankle muscles that gets worse with wear, say exercise physiologists.

Results from their study of 40 American college women who wore 10cm high heels more than three times a week show that initially the shoes increased ankle strength.

However, after a few years of regular wear and tear, muscular imbalance and weakness of the soft tissues around the ankle joints was evident.

In particular, the researchers note that strength of the plantarflexor, dorsiflexor, invertor and evertor ankle muscles was affected.

However, other than downgrading to a pair of sensible shoes, there is a way to prevent such an injury, they say.

“It is clinically important for wearers of high heels to regularly perform ankle strengthening exercises, such as towel scrunches, heel walking, toe tappers and heel raises,” they wrote in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.


Last Reviewed: 04/06/2015



M.-H. Kim, Y.-T. Choi, Y.-S. Jee, D. Eun, I.-G. Ko, S.-E. Kim, E.-S. Yi andJ. Yoo. Reducing the frequency of wearing high-heeled shoes and increasing ankle strength can prevent ankle injury in women. International Journal of Clinical Practice Article first published online: 1 JUN 2015. DOI: 10.1111/ijcp.12684