But I Love These Shoes!

Ok, maybe I am treading on sacred ground as a male writing about this topic, but here it goes…

Last week I opened my downstairs closet to see 16 pairs of my wife’s shoes very neatly organized on newly purchased shoe racks. To some of you reading this, that may seem like a rather small sample size of footwear. But to the average guy, understanding why it is necessary to own 16 pairs of anything will forever be a challenge. That being said, I am not going any further down the “Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus” path. I can only get myself into trouble.

Instead, I am going to focus on the science of walking on high-heeled shoes. Yes, I said “science.” Some culturally and (perhaps) stylistically in-tune researchers from Denmark published a research study in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics in February 2012 entitled Walking on high heels changes muscle activity and the dynamics of human walking significantly.

The researchers’ stated study aim was to investigate the distribution of net joint movements in the lower extremities while walking on high-heeled shoes, compared with barefoot walking at identical speeds. The results of the study showed that there were greater bone-on-bone forces in the knee joint during walking with high heels, compared to barefoot walking. They concluded that these findings may explain the observed higher incidence of osteoarthritis in the knee joint in women, compared to men.

So what’s the take-home message? 

Can we definitively say that wearing high-heeled shoes will cause arthritis in the knee? No. However, if we consider this as a possibility, especially in an environment of long walking commutes in many major cities, this information provides us with a valuable suggestion.

My suggestion (despite my less than infinite fashion sensibility) is to wear a good pair of walking sneakers during your commute, and then change into your wonderfully stylish high heels at the front door, or when you get to your desk. Think of it this way – if high heels really do cause arthritis, then by wearing sneakers during the periods of greatest demand on your feet, you may actually extend your high-heel wearing years overall.

Let’s start a new fashion trend – sneakers on the commute, and fashion-forward high heels in the office!

I will gladly accept any questions, constructive criticism, or fashion tips. Thank you!


Walking on high heels changes muscle activity and the dynamics of human walking significantly. Simonsen EB, Svendsen MB, Nørreslet A, Baldvinsson HK, Heilskov-Hansen T, Larsen PK, Alkjær T, Henriksen M. J Appl Biomech. 2012 Feb;28(1):20-8.