Effects of high heeled shoes wearing experience and heel height on human standing balance and functional mobility
This study aimed to examine the effects of high heeled shoes (HHS) wearing experience and heel height on human standing balance and functional mobility. Thirty young and healthy females (ten experienced and twenty inexperienced HHS wearers) participated in a series of balance tests when they wore shoes of four different heel heights: 1 cm (flat), 4 cm (low), 7 cm (medium) and 10 cm (high). Experimental results show that regardless of the wearing experience, the heel elevation induces more effort from lower limb muscles (particularly calf muscles) and results in worse functional mobility starting at 7 cm heel height. While the heel height increased to 10 cm, the standing balance also becomes worse. Experienced HHS wearers do not show significantly better overall performance on standing balance and functional mobility than inexperienced controls, even though they have better directional control (76.8% vs. 74.4%) and larger maximum excursion (93.3% vs. 89.7%). To maintain standing balance, experienced wearers exert less effort on tibialis anterior, vastus lateralis and erector spinae muscles at the cost of more intensive effort from gastrocnemius medialis muscle.
Practitioner summary: Many women wear high heeled shoes (HHS) to increase female attractiveness. This study shows that HHS induce more muscular effort and worse human standing balance and functional mobility, especially when heel height reaches 10 cm. HHS wearing experience only provides certain advantages to wearers on limits of stability in terms of larger maximum excursion and better directional control.