Review on March 30, 2009
For years, medical professionals have known that twice as many women develop osteoporosis in later life than men of the same age. In fact osteoporosis has been identified as "the fourth most frequent predictor of health problems worldwide in women," by the leader of a recent study into the causes of osteoporosis, Dr. E. Pascal.
A 1998 study conducted by the Physical Medicine Department at Harvard Medical School showed a link between women who wore stiletto high heels for a large percentage of their lives and the development of osteoporosis in later life.
In the study, 20 women, all in good health, were each given two pairs of shoes. Each pair was 2.7 inches high, although one was 1.75 inches wide and the other was 0.5 inches wide. Each subject walked for 10 meters in both pairs of shoes and then once barefoot. Each time the amount of impact in each knee was measured.
The results showed that the thinner heel had a greater impact on the knee and doctors believe that this would have a long term effect and increase the changes of a woman developing osteoporosis in her knees over time.
Dr. Pascal's study, conducted at the University of Miguel Hernández in Alicante, Spain, looked into the effect of prolonged high heel wearing and has shown similar results.
After interviewing women suffering osteoporosis, researchers found that wearing shoes with a low heel or a platform insole may in fact relieve the pain of osteoporosis and other forms of musculoskeletal problems. Dr. Pascal also found that the effectiveness of sensible shoes is completely dependent on where in the body a person is suffering osteoporosis, as different shoes may help some more than others.
Overall it seems that high shoes worn over a long period of time may well speed up the onset of osteoporosis as a women goes through menopause, although the painful symptoms of osteoporosis can also be alleviated by more supportive footwear.
- Casey Kerrigan, MD, associate professor of physical medicine at Harvard Medical School, 1998. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health:Volume 57(10)October 2003pp 763-765 'Shoes and lower limb osteoarthritis'.
- Pascual, E, Rheumatology Section, Hospital General Universitario de Alicante, and Universidad Miguel Hernández, Alicante, Spain.