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Good News about High Heels: They Build Muscle

Updated on May 18, 2007


High heels sure to get a bad rap! Known to many as an "ergonomics nightmare", they are a fashion accessory many women just won't go without (including myself!) As a runner I have read the articles warning about back problems, leg problems, joint problems, feet problems, ect! But yet I still put them on each morning for work. So I will thrilled when I recently read an article which gave me some GREAT news! High heels aren't all bad.

I recent study of high heels and the muscles they affect revealed that heels actually help build strong calf muscles (great news for runners and bikers). The angle of the foot causes your calf to work harder (think of it like doing heel rises all day long, you are working the same muscles). Finally some good news about my favorite blue peep-toes! Of course there are still drawbacks to heels, so follow the do and don't below to get the most calf-building heels with the least ergonomic problems.

What to look for:

  • A wider heel- try to find a heel the diameter of a quarter.
  • A shorter heel- try to keep it to 3 inches or under.
  • Supportive souls- make sure the shoe has good support for the ball of you foot and your arch.
  • Comfort- they are lots, and lots, and lots of shoes our there, find a pair that is comfortable for you, you don't have to "sacrifice fashion" as they say, you just need to shop around more.

What to stay away from:

  • Skinny heels- try to avoid any heel smaller than a nickel in diameter.
  • Tall heels- heels over 3 inches start to cause problems because the bed is outweighing the good. Even though you are using your calf muscles, you are putting a large amount of stain and pressure on your back and legs. (Not to mention a fall from that high could hurt!)
  • Little or no support- Cheaply made shoes are going to offer little or no support, which will lead to back and leg pain
  • Fashion over comfort- That saying "pain is beauty"- erase it from your mind! That saying was for when woman were squeeze themselves into corsets! We don't wear them anymore and nor do we have to wear uncomfortable shoes- there are lots of options out there, and shoes are being made better than ever, so find a pair that fits right and feels good, and if it doesn't- no biggy, keep shopping!


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  • profile image

    Jessica 10 years ago

    I couldn't agree more. I wear heels all day every day, between 4" and about 5" usually, and am always complimented on how shapley my legs are.

  • LatexLeah profile image

    LatexLeah 9 years ago

    Great! Now if we could just get women back into skirts and dresses. :)

  • balletomanehk profile image

    balletomanehk 9 years ago

    What an interesting article! Yes, there are comfy heels out there, but a little hard to find for my extra wide feet ; )

    One word of caution though: as someone who studies ballet, I know how very important it is to have strong calf muscles. But I also know how important it is to stretch them out from time to time to lengthen those muscles otherwise they become too tense and cannot function as well. So the same should go to "exercising while wearing the heels". A good stretch at the beginning of the day and after would make sure the calf muscles don't get too tight.

  • Histiletto profile image

    Histiletto 9 years ago

    The desire to wear high heels and the benefits of wearing them out weigh the negatives of those who have become opposed and make it a point to express their opinions vehemently. Learning of the way they help improve the calf muscles is just another good reason to wear them. I would venture to say that those who dislike wearing heels haven't been able to find a pair made well enough so that the fit and support is in proper order for them. Then again, there are some people who have foot imperfections that prohibit them from being able to tolerate the wearing of high heels and I feel bad that they have to miss out of this exhilarating experience.

    As you may have already summarized, I have been one of the fortunate people, who can wear high heels. Of course, my desire helped me through many pairs of heels that were found to be made with poor or lesser quality. I guess you might say I have paid my dues. It really is a pity I have to be concerned about the close minded of society, who think high heels can only be worn properly by women, because as a man, I am one of the examples that unjustifies this line of thought.

  • profile image

    antianera 8 years ago

    Oh please, stop spreading misleading information. Read this page, BEYOND the first paragraph under 'For high heels' and educate yourself.

    'However, the excessive wearing of heels can permanently shorten your calf muscles. To avoid strain, you shouldn't walk more then two miles at a time in heels, and you should keep heel height to under two inches.' Assuming that that's where you got your information from.

    Stop deluding yourselves women, especially when there aren't any sources cited. High heels are lovely, sure, but exercising is a much better way to build muscles. None of this shopping+heels=cardio crap please!

  • profile image

    BabyJai 7 years ago

    I am a huge fan of aerosoles pumps. They are comfortable and make you feel sexy. I go on my treadmill with them and wear them around the house even when I'm in sweats. Not only is it great for confidence, but I always wear heels at work for 8 hours or more, so walking in them is really not going to do any damage. My Aerosoles are a classic black pump with a nice semi thick heel(for support), they can be found for $50-$70, and are worth it. I also don't wear socks or hosiery while working out and I use dumbbells and raise my arms straight above my head or to the sides, and hold it there for abs. I can feel the difference and I even do an incline. FYI I went from 203 to 165 in about 4 months and still going strong in my heels, and feeling sexy at the same time. Just make sure they are good comfortable shoes with a supportive heel.

  • profile image

    Leghunta 7 years ago

    Wedges are the best. 4-5 inch with flat base. They offer the best support.

  • profile image

    gilbert  6 years ago

    hard for the achille tendon i think . is this wrong

  • profile image

    Anonymous 5 years ago

    That's good to hear!!! I thought they were bad for you but I guess not!

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