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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Csapo 2010.

Women adapt effectively and minimally to wearing high heels

Csapo R, Maganaris CN, Seynnes OR, Narici MV. On muscle, tendon and high heels. J Exp Biol. 2010 Aug;213(Pt 15):2582–8. PubMed #20639419.
Tags: fun, etiology, biology, stretch, plantar fasciitis, shin pain, foot, pro, exercise, self-treatment, treatment, muscle, leg, limbs, pain problems, overuse injury, injury, tendinosis, running

PainSci summary of Csapo 2010?This page is one of thousands in the bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focussed on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★☆☆?3-star ratings are for typical studies with no more (or less) than the usual common problems. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

High heels are often vilified, but this carefully done 2010 study showed that the body adapts effectively and minimally, producing quite similar functional results. The most interesting implication of their results is simply that “muscle structure may adapt to a chronic change in functional demand” — which might seem obvious, but that little bit of science has been hard to nail down over the years, and this is a good piece of the puzzle.

Chronic heel wearers do have shortened calf muscles, stiffer Achilles tendons, and a smaller ankle range of motion, but these changes “seem to counteract each other since no significant differences in static or dynamic torques were observed.” In other words, high heel wearers are not progressively disabled: their ankles work fine, just differently. This doesn’t mean there’s no conceivable harm (for instance, Kerrigan found evidence of harm to the knees), but it does tend to downgrade concern on the topic.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstract

Wearing high heels (HH) places the calf muscle-tendon unit (MTU) in a shortened position. As muscles and tendons are highly malleable tissues, chronic use of HH might induce structural and functional changes in the calf MTU. To test this hypothesis, 11 women regularly wearing HH and a control group of 9 women were recruited. Gastrocnemius medialis (GM) fascicle length, pennation angle and physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA), the Achilles' tendon (AT) length, cross-sectional area (CSA) and mechanical properties, and the plantarflexion torque-angle and torque-velocity relationships were assessed in both groups. Shorter GM fascicle lengths were observed in the HH group (49.6+/-5.7 mm vs 56.0+/-7.7 mm), resulting in greater tendon-to-fascicle length ratios. Also, because of greater AT CSA, AT stiffness was higher in the HH group (136.2+/-26.5 N mm(-1) vs 111.3+/-20.2 N mm(-1)). However, no differences in the GM PCSA to AT CSA ratio, torque-angle and torque-velocity relationships were found. We conclude that long-term use of high-heeled shoes induces shortening of the GM muscle fascicles and increases AT stiffness, reducing the ankle's active range of motion. Functionally, these two phenomena seem to counteract each other since no significant differences in static or dynamic torques were observed.

related content

These seven articles on cite Csapo 2010 as a source:

This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog.