The effects of high heeled shoes on female gait: a review

J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2014 Apr;24(2):258-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2014.01.004. Epub 2014 Jan 24.


Walking is the most common form of human locomotion. From a motor control perspective, human bipedalism makes the task of walking extremely complex. For parts of the step cycle, there is only one foot on the ground, so both balance and propulsion are required in order for the movement to proceed smoothly. One condition known to compound the difficulty of walking is the use of high heeled shoes, which alter the natural position of the foot-ankle complex, and thereby produce a chain reaction of (mostly negative) effects that travels up the lower limb at least as far as the spine. This review summarises recent studies that have examined acute and chronic effects of high heels on balance and locomotion in young, otherwise healthy women. Controversial issues, common study limitations and directions for future research are also addressed in detail.

Keywords: Electromyography; Gait; Kinematics; Kinetics; Muscle mechanics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ankle / physiology
  • Back / physiology
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Foot / physiology
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Heel / physiology*
  • Hip / physiology
  • Humans
  • Locomotion
  • Shoes*
  • Spine / physiology
  • Walking / physiology
  • Young Adult