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High heels are the devil

High heels are an essential part of our fashion-glam culture. Finding a pair of flats at last night’s SAG Awards was like trying to find a vegan quinoa recipe in a Paula Deen cookbook. More common was the doughnut burger of the shoe world: the 29-inch stiletto like Emma Stone wore. What women will suffer for fashion! Personally, the two of us fall into the more utilitarian camp: while Em has been known to rock a sparkly pump at a party, you’ll find her more often than not in the day-to-day dressing up a flow-y, flowery dress with a pair of Converse. And Lo? Nothing comes between her and her Danskos. It may not be pretty, but nothing’s more ugly than her mood after 20 minutes in a pair of uncomfortable pumps (are they even called that anymore?). Which is why we always feel high and mighty in our low flats when a new study about the horrors of high heels comes out.  For a study published in the Jan. 12 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia compared the strides of 9 women who wore two inch heels for at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of two years with strides of 10 young women who wore heels less than 10 hours per week, by outfitting them with electrodes and motion-capture reflective markers to study their leg muscles. Here’s what they found happened to high heel wearers:

  • They walk with shorter, more forceful strides
  • They constantly have their feet flexed and their toes pointed
  • The above causes their calf muscles to shorten
  • And shorter muscles means much greater mechanical strain on their calf muscles
  • The strain means walking less efficiently which can lead to muscle fatigue
  • The greater muscle strain as well as the introduction of the occasional flat may mean greater risk of injury

Which is why it’s so nice that there are a few fashion-glam events like the Sundance Film Festival, where comfortable, cozy flats reign supreme. Here’s to more of them!

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photo via Flickr