Walking on High Heels Changes Muscle Activity and the Dynamics of Human Walking Significantly

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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The aim of the study was to investigate the distribution of net joint moments in the lower extremities during walking on high-heeled shoes compared with barefooted walking at identical speed. Fourteen female subjects walked at 4 km/h across three force platforms while they were filmed by five digital video cameras operating at 50 frames/second. Both barefooted walking and walking on high-heeled shoes (heel height: 9 cm) were recorded. Net joint moments were calculated by 3D inverse dynamics. EMG was recorded from eight leg muscles. The knee extensor moment peak in the first half of the stance phase was doubled when walking on high heels. The knee joint angle showed that high-heeled walking caused the subjects to flex the knee joint significantly more in the first half of the stance phase. In the frontal plane a significant increase was observed in the knee joint abductor moment and the hip joint abductor moment. Several EMG parameters increased significantly when walking on high-heels. The results indicate a large increase in bone-on-bone forces in the knee joint directly caused by the increased knee joint extensor moment during high-heeled walking, which may explain the observed higher incidence of osteoarthritis in the knee joint in women as compared with men.

Erik B. Simonsen (Corresponding Author), Morten B. Svendsen, Andreas Nørreslet, Henrik K. Baldvinsson, Thomas Heilskov-Hansen, and Tine Alkjær are with the Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, The Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. Peter K. Larsen is with the Laboratory of Biological Anthropology, The Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Marius Henriksen is with the Clinical Motor Function Laboratory, Parker Institute, Frederiksberg Hospital, Frederiksberg, Denmark.