Heel height affects lower extremity frontal plane joint moments during walking

Gait Posture. 2012 Mar;35(3):483-8. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2011.11.013. Epub 2011 Dec 12.


Wearing high heels alters walking kinematics and kinetics and can create potentially adverse effects on the body. Our purpose was to determine how heel height affects frontal plane joint moments at the hip, knee, and ankle, with a specific focus on the knee moment due to its importance in joint loading and knee osteoarthritis. 15 women completed overground walking using three different heel heights (1, 5, and 9 cm) for fixed speed (1.3 ms(-1)) and preferred speed conditions while kinematic and force platform data were collected concurrently. For both fixed and preferred speeds, peak internal knee abduction moment increased systematically as heel height increased (fixed: 0.46, 0.48, 0.55 N m kg(-1); preferred: 0.47, 0.49, 0.53 N m kg(-1)). Heel height effects on net frontal plane moments of the hip and ankle were similar to those for the knee; peak joint moments increased as heel height increased. The higher peak internal knee abduction moment with increasing heel height suggests greater medial loading at the knee. Kinetic changes at the ankle with increasing heel height may also contribute to larger medial loads at the knee. Overall, wearing high heels, particularly those with higher heel heights, may put individuals at greater risk for joint degeneration and developing medial compartment knee osteoarthritis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Ankle Joint / physiopathology
  • Anthropometry
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cohort Studies
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Foot Joints / physiopathology
  • Forefoot, Human / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiopathology
  • Lower Extremity / physiopathology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / etiology
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / prevention & control*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Shoes / adverse effects*
  • Stress, Mechanical*
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing
  • Young Adult