Skip to main content Skip to navigation

High Heels Don't Harm Knees, Says Medical Research

Fears that wearing spine-bending high-heeled shoes could lead to knee arthritis are unfounded, says new research carried out by Professor Margaret Thorogood at the University of Warwick.

According to the study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health women who smoke, are overweight and do a lot of heavy housework such as scrubbing are more likely to develop painful knees later in life. But, women who wear stiletto heels will be reassured to learn that their choice of fashion-before-comfort footwear will not lead to knee joint problems and may even prevent them.

About two per cent of over 55s suffer from knee osteoarthritis, and it is twice as likely to develop in women as men. So many women suffer from arthritis of the knee joint that doctors speculated that wearing high heels might trigger the condition.

In the study of 111 women aged 50 to 70, 29 had varying degrees of knee pain. There was a link between regular dancing in three-inch heels and a reduced risk of knee problems. Results showed that 55.2 per cent of the women with knee arthritis had regularly worn 3in heels, compared with 67.1 per cent of the healthy women.

While choice of shoes is a not a cause factor of knee problems, being overweight before the age of 40 or a previous knee injury is much more likely to increase the risk in older women, as is a history of demanding physical work, including housework on the knees.

For more information contact:

Professor Margaret Thorogood, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 574 509, Home: 01865 723 494, Email:

 or Press Office University of Warwick 024 76 524668

An investigation of risk factors for symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee in women using a life course approach’ is published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health and is co-written by Dr J Dawson at Oxford Brookes University.