Walking tall and falling short: high-heeled shoe injuries on the rise
In fact, the damages were severe enough that upon publication of the study in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Injuries, the research team took the occasion to warn the public about appropriate footwear selection and awareness of one's surroundings.
"Although high-heeled shoes might be stylish, from a health standpoint, it would be worthwhile for those interested in wearing high-heeled shoes to understand the risks and the potential harm that precarious activities in high-heeled shoes can cause," says lead author Gerald McGwin, Ph.D., vice chair and professor of the Department of Epidemiology in the UAB School of Public Health.
Working with data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission's National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, McGwin and his team counted 123,355 high-heel-related injuries that occurred during the decade they surveyed.
The most eventful year was 2011 with more than 19,000 accidents.
The 20s are the most vulnerable years for high-heel-related injuries, followed by the 30s, according to the study.
Over 80% of the injuries were to the ankle or foot, with less than 20% pertaining to the knee, trunk, shoulder or head and neck, according to the study.
Discomfort is just the beginning
Walking in high heels has been shown to significantly reduce ankle muscle movement, which could restrict range of motion in the foot over time, according to the study.
Previous studies have established that high heels are often the culprit behind musculoskeletal issues and lower extremity discomfort, according to McGwin.
He recommends that those who don high heels be aware of how often they do so and for how long.
"We also noted that nearly half the injuries occurred in the home, which really supports the idea of wearing the right footwear for the right occasion and setting," says McGwin.
His research suggests high-heeled shoes have been in fashion for nearly 300 years.