London: Wearing high heels regularly may change the way a woman walks, even after they take them off, say researchers.
Scientists from The Griffith University in Queensland, Australia found that by constantly forcing a foot into a ‘plantarflexed’ position, or downwardly pointed toes, women are changing their walking behaviour - at the risk of causing permanent damage to leg muscles.
According to New York Times, for this study a group of heel lovers were compared with a control group of women, all of whom were aged between late teens and early 30s, who rarely wear heels, the Daily Mail reported.
The women were asked to walk along a 26-foot runway specially underlaid with sensors. They monitored the varying forces of each foot on the ground as well as the action of joints and muscles.
The results found that even when walking in flats, regular high-heel wearers - those who have worn a 2 inch plus heel for more than 40 hours a week over the preceding two years - have a neuromechanically adapted style of walking to that of non-heel wearers.
Flat shoe wearers look longer strides, using their tendons to walk rather than overly engaging their calves.
Heel wearers took shorter, more aggressive steps, putting more pressure on calf muscles.
The team - led by Dr Neil J Cronin, who has since relocated to the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland - said that walking in heels is an inefficient way to walk.
Heel wearers need to over-work their calf muscles in order to take steps, rather than relying on the tendons, which deftly control barefoot walking.
The results suggest that after only two years, heel wearers are more likely to suffer from muscle fatigue and strain injuries.
According to Dr Cronin, particular care needs to be taken when exercising and putting strain onto tendons that are not often fully flexed - and taking a break from heels is recommended. He advised that heels should be worn only ‘once or twice a week’.
The study was published this month in the Journal of Applied Physiology.