Effect of heel height on in-shoe localized triaxial stresses

J Biomech. 2011 Aug 11;44(12):2267-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2011.05.036. Epub 2011 Jun 25.


Abnormal and excessive plantar pressure and shear are potential risk factors for high-heeled related foot problems, such as forefoot pain, hallux valgus deformity and calluses. Plantar shear stresses could be of particular importance with an inclined supporting surface of high-heeled shoe. This study aimed to investigate the contact pressures and shear stresses simultaneously between plantar foot and high-heeled shoe over five major weightbearing regions: hallux, heel, first, second and fourth metatarsal heads, using in-shoe triaxial force transducers. During both standing and walking, peak pressure and shear stress shifted from the lateral to the medial forefoot as the heel height increased from 30 to 70mm. Heel height elevation had a greater influence on peak shear than peak pressure. The increase in peak shear was up to 119% during walking, which was about five times that of peak pressure. With increasing heel height, peak posterolateral shear over the hallux at midstance increased, whereas peak pressure at push-off decreased. The increased posterolateral shear could be a contributing factor to hallux deformity. It was found that there were differences in the location and time of occurrence between in-shoe peak pressure and peak shear. In addition, there were significant differences in time of occurrence for the double-peak loading pattern between the resultant horizontal ground reaction force peaks and in-shoe localized peak shears. The abnormal and drastic increase of in-shoe shear stresses might be a critical risk factor for shoe-related foot disorders. In-shoe triaxial stresses should therefore be considered to help in designing proper footwear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Foot / anatomy & histology*
  • Forefoot, Human / physiology
  • Hallux Valgus
  • Heel / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Posture
  • Pressure
  • Shoes
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Time Factors
  • Walking
  • Weight-Bearing