Background: Little is known about the effects of walking in high heels on joints in the legs. Since osteoarthritis of the knee is twice as common in women as in men, we investigated torques (forces applied about the leg joints) of women who wore high-heeled shoes.
Methods: We studied 20 healthy women who were comfortable wearing high-heeled shoes. The women walked with their own high-heeled shoes and barefoot. Data were plotted and qualitatively compared; major peak values for high-heeled and barefoot walking were statistically compared. Bonferroni adjustment was made for multiple comparisons.
Findings: Measurement showed increased force across the patellofemoral joint and a greater compressive force on the medial compartment of the knee (average 23% greater forces) during walking in high heels than barefoot.
Interpretation: The altered forces at the knee caused by walking in high heels may predispose to degenerative changes in the joint.