Foot News

High heels and Ankle Sprains.
April 14, 2012

Scientific News in Foot Pain (Part Seven):
The Influence of Heel Height on Frontal Plane Ankle Biomechanics: Implications for Lateral Ankle Sprains

high-heelsThe mechanical attributes of your shoes affect the way that you walk. The stiffness, the construction, and the position that your foot is held in within the shoe dictates the amount of motion that is required of your joints, the amount of work that each of your tendons have to do, and the amount of strain of the ligaments that help support your joints. These qualities can be used to help protect your joints. Mechanical qualities of your shoe can also put your foot at risk.

Ms. Foster and her associates have evaluated the effect of heel height on several aspects of gait. They found that high-heeled shoes change your gait in many unexpected ways. Besides restricting dorsiflexion of the ankle, high-heeled shoes cause your foot to be positioned in a more inverted way. This rolls your heel inward making it easier to sprain your ankle. The increased height of your heel also increases the distance to the floor. This will make ankle sprains more frequent and more severe when they occur. This also strains the muscles that support the outside of the ankle. It could be expected that this increased stress may predispose the wearer of high-heeled shoes to tendinitis along the outside of the ankle.

While there are many reasons that people select high-heeled shoes, this is another consequence of the use of the issues. People who suffer from recurrent ankle sprains should keep this in mind and avoid them when possible.

–Brett Fink, MD.  Co-author of The Whole Foot Book:  A Comprehensive Guide to Taking Care of your Feet