In a 2012 study, Kai-Yu Ho, Mark Blanchette and Christopher Powers, wanted to determine if heel height increased patellofemoral joint stress during walking. The patellofemoral joint refers to junction where the femur and patella meet. The study consisted of eleven participants wearing tracking and reflective markers as they walked across a 10 meter force plated walkway in low, medium and high heels. The study showed that as the height of the heel increased, the ball of the foot experienced an increase in pressure resulting in increased discomfort levels and peak patellofemoral joint stress. The researchers also mentioned that the long term usage of high heels would lead to repetitive overstress of the joint which would result in an increase in pain and eventually, patellofemoral joint osteoarthritis and Patellofemoral pain syndrome.
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An analysis of the dance-related injuries in 113,084 adolescents in US emergency rooms from 1991–2007 was conducted using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System. The most common injury found among the data were sprains and strains which accounted for 52.4% of the data. Additional injuries include back and leg pain, loss of joint mobility in the wearer's knees and blisters. In particular, shoes with a narrow space for the toes can squeeze tightly enough to cause foot deformity. Dancers can add cushioning to the soles of their dancing shoes or inserts to ease the pain during dancing.
Research shows that heels draw attention to long legs and small feet. Some argue that "high-heeled shoes, perhaps more than any other item of clothing, are seen as the ultimate symbol of being a woman." High heels often play a key role in emphasizing a wearer's, most commonly a woman's, arched back and extended buttocks. This "natural courting pose" sexualizes the wearer, and can turn them into objects subjected to the male gaze. This research highlights the emphasis heels place on the appearance of the wearer, instead of their arguably more valuable internal traits such as intelligence, creativity, or strength.
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