Which Shoes to Choose?

For many women, the classic stiletto high-heeled shoe can make an outfit sing. However, too often these shoes can also make the feet ache. But did you know that they could also cause long-term damage?

Studies have shown that narrow high-heeled shoes are bad for the knees, causing osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, in which joint cartilage degenerates. In this study, published in The Lancet, U.S. researchers found that wide-heeled shoes caused 30% greater pressure on the knees than walking barefoot.

The particular parts of the knee affected are those which deteriorate as osteoarthritis develops. A particular kind of pressure, called varus torque, placed on the knee was measured. It was found that pressure makes the quadriceps muscle in the thigh work harder, which in turn places more pressure on the kneecap.

This study shows that wide-heeled women's dress shoes cause the same, if not greater alterations in knee torques (pressures) as narrow-heeled shoes, and recommends the wearing of shoes with low or no heels. Your doctor of chiropractic can tell you more about appropriate foot attire and help you choose a shoe that is safe and suitable to your needs.


Kerrigan C, Lelas J, Karvosky ME. Women's shoes and knee osteoarthritis. The Lancet 2001:357, pp.1097-1098.

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