High Heels are 'Good For You' - It's Official!
After years of dire warnings about the dangers of wearing high heel shoes, doctors have at last challenged the idea that they are bad for women.
In fact, stilettos may be kinder to women's legs than sensible flat shoes, say researchers.
They discovered that wearing a high heel shoe, like Cheryl Cole (pictured) may make women less likely to develop arthritic changes in the knee joint in later life. But, at the very least, so-called fashion victims are certainly no worse off than women opting for flat shoes, they claim.
It has long been suggested that so many women suffer painful knees in later life because of their footwear. By 65, about twice as many women as men have arthritic knees.
Researchers at Warwick University and Oxford Brookes University in the UK investigated the stiletto controversy with the help of over 100 women aged 50 to 70, of whom 29 were awaiting knee replacements.
They asked about their taste in shoes and boots as well as other lifestyle factors, according to a report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. To their absolute surprise, they found that there was no evidence that wearing high heels was linked to any knee problems.
Indeed, the research suggested those who regularly wore 3" heels were less likely to be suffering any problems. Professor Margaret Thorogood, from the Medical School at Warwick University, said that it wasn't necessarily the sexy shoes causing knee problems. But being overweight before 40, doing demanding physical work and previous knee injuries all had a much greater influence.
In fact, there was a link between dancing in 3" heels and a lower risk of knee problems, she said. 'It is highly unlikely that the wearing of high heels represents a risk factor,' she added.
Women were shown pictures of 38 different types of shoes and were asked if they had ever worn a certain type regularly, either for work, socially or even dancing. The highest heel chosen for each five year period was used for the analysis. The women were also asked how old they were when they first started wearing high heels shoes with 1", 2", or 3" heels.
Stilettos were definitely not to blame for knee arthritis, because more than half of the 100+ women surveyed - of whom some suffered arthritis and some had no knee pain at all - wore them and enjoyed wearing them! Some 55% of the women with knee arthritis regularly wore 3in heels, as did 67% of those with no pain.
However, most of the women in the survey had spent many years doing physically demanding work, and several activities were linked with an increased risk of osteoarthritis of the knee, including heavy or regular lifting and bending without due care and attention.
Professor Thorogood said the evidence pointed to a completely different kind of strain being very bad for women's knees. 'Women who smoke, are overweight and do a lot of manual labour like housework are far more likely to develop painful knees later in life.
'But women who wear stiletto heels will be delighted to learn that their choice of fashion-before-comfort footwear will probably not lead to any knee joint problems and may even prevent them.'