If you are a businesswoman, you are expected to dress a certain way: power suit, sharp blouse, killer high heels. But, the term "killer" might be more apt than what was previously thought. Most women know that there is nothing better than slipping off those stiletto heels and walking around barefoot or in a pair of cushioned flats, but for many, the damage that they are doing by cramming their feet into those beautiful but vicious shoes every day can be permanent.
In a new study that will be published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers found that the more often or the longer that you wear high heeled shoes, the more you increase the risk of serious, long term damage to the tendons and muscles in the back of the legs. Shoes that are higher than two inches force the foot into a pointed toe position, technically referred to as "plantar flexed" position. This is similar to the shape of the Barbie doll foot. In addition to damaging the calf muscles, these shoes can also cause the Achilles tendon to become stiff rather than flexing as it is supposed to. That stiffness contributes to the tired, achy feeling that women often complain about at the end of a long day but may also dramatically increase her risk of injury, even when she does not have high heeled shoes on.
In the study, the researchers had a number of women from two groups, the frequent high heel wearer and the women that typically steered clear of the dangerous footwear. Researchers defined "frequent" as wearing the shoes at least forty hours (the typical workweek) a week for at least two years time. The other women, those who rarely wore high heels, logged in less than ten hours per week of shoes with a heel of one and a half inches or more.
Each group of women were asked to walk across a floor while their gait, muscle use and more were studied and evaluated. The women in the high heel group were asked to do the test both with and without shoes so that evaluators could see what changes, if any, were made from one walk to the other. Researchers noted that in both passes, the women's muscles and foot placement were nearly identical. The average age of the women in the study was twenty five, showing that the damage could happen far earlier than had previously been thought possible.
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