High heels likely wrecking women's knees, research shows

Posted at 2:28 PM, Apr 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-14 15:28:06-04

Next time someone says “killer heels,” they might mean it literally.

Women are about two times more likely to develop arthritis of the knees than men — and high-heeled shoes may be to blame.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Stanford University concluded that fashionable footwear is the most likely culprit for 50-year-old women having the knee joints of a retired NFL running back.

“High heel use, especially in combination with additional weight, may contribute to increased osteoarthritis risk in women,” the study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research indicated.

Researchers tested 14 female volunteers from ages 20 to 51 who had no histories of chronic back pain. The subjects walked 10 meter trials at various paces wearing three different types of footwear, including athletic shoes and high heels of two distinct heights. They then performed the same tests with the subjects wearing vests that added 20 percent to their body weight.

Several impact points on the subjects’ knees were measured during each test, aiming to find what caused the most stress on the joints.

“Many of the changes observed with increasing heel height and weight were similar to those seen with aging and osteoarthritis progression,” the study read. Researchers concluded that high heel wear, especially on a person carrying extra weight, “induces significant changes in knee joint loading.”

Some women may argue that wearing heels is an art that not all people know how to do properly — the study would disagree. The report found no significant correlations between heel-wearing experience level and any of the test results.

The price of beauty is high indeed.

Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.