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J Orthop Res. 2015 Mar;33(3):405-11. doi: 10.1002/jor.22775. Epub 2014 Dec 22.

Effects of high heel wear and increased weight on the knee during walking.

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Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA; VA Palo Alto, Joint Preservation Center, Palo Alto, CA; Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Stanford University Medical Center, Stanford, CA.


Knee osteoarthritis (OA), a leading cause of disability, is more prevalent in women than men. Wearing high heeled shoes has been implicated as a potential contributing factor for the higher lifetime risk of osteoarthritis in women. This study tests the hypotheses that changes to knee kinematics and kinetics observed during high heeled walking increase in magnitude with increasing heel height and are accentuated by a 20% increase in weight. Fourteen healthy females were tested using marker-based gait analysis in combinations of footwear (flat athletic shoe, 3.8 cm and 8.3 cm heeled shoes) and weight (with and without 20% bodyweight vest). At preferred walking speed, knee flexion angle at heel-strike and midstance increased with increasing heel height and weight. Maximum knee extension moment during loading response decreased with added weight; maximum knee extension moment during terminal stance decreased with heel height; maximum adduction moments increased with heel height. Many of the changes observed with increasing heel height and weight were similar to those seen with aging and OA progression. This suggests that high heel use, especially in combination with additional weight, may contribute to increased OA risk in women.


biomechanics; high-heeled shoes; loaded gait; osteoarthritis; women's footwear

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