New research published in Clinical Biomechanics concerns the advantages and disadvantages of wearing high heeled shoes. The aim of the study was develop a finite element model for evaluating the biomechanical effects of high-heeled support on the ankle-foot complex using a three dimensional (3D) anatomically detailed Finite Element (FE) model of the female foot and ankle together with a high-heeled support. The instrument measured plantar contact pressure and internal loading responses of the bony and soft tissue structures of the foot with varying heel heights during simulated balanced standing. Due to limitations of the experimental approaches, the authors reported direct measurements of internal stress/strain of the foot were impossible or invasive. The published findings support the balanced foot on high heel shoes increases the magnitude of von Mises stress at the first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint (big toe joint) and that may produce deleterious effects on the musculoskeletal system, but strain on the plantar fascia decreased compared to the flat horizontal support. The authors concluded prolonged standing in high heeled shoes increased stress in forefoot especially at the first MTP segment. This may contribute in some people to forefoot instability. However wearing high heel shoes also reduced tensile strain in the plantar fascia which might indicate their use with foot orthoses in the treatment of plantar fasciitis.
Yu J, Cheung JT, Fan Y, Zhang Y, Leung AK, Zhang M. 2007 Development of a finite element model of female foot for high-heeled shoe design. Clin Biomech