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MMU scientists undertake stiletto research

Published: 25th November 2008

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Robert Csapo requires research volunteers

Scientists at MMU are hoping to show the anatomical consequences of long-term high heel use and are seeking stiletto-wearing volunteers to help them with their research.

Women may love beautiful shoes, but high heels can cause calf pain, stiffness, bunions and even difficulty standing flat.

Now, scientists at MMU’s Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health (IRM) hope to find the solution to the age-old painful problem and have launched a ‘Stiletto Trial’.

Impact of stilettos on muscles

"We are looking for female volunteers who wear stilettos so we can better understand the impact of regular high heel use on lower leg muscles and tendons," says MMU doctoral researcher Robert Csapo.

"It is unsurprising that women who have worn high heeled shoes for several years complain of pain and podiatry problems, as human muscle is highly malleable and adapts with chronic use. We expect to find the calves of our volunteers visibly changed, with shortened calf muscles (ankle plantarflexors), lengthened front leg muscles (ankle dorisflexors), shortened Achilles tendons – which will make it difficult to stand flat - and tighter ankles with less movement."

Csapo continues: "We hope to obtain some hard scientific data that enables us to provide useful advice to both women and shoe manufacturers on preventing the adverse effects of high heel wear, such as the optimum time and frequency to wear stilettos."

Ultrasound & MRI technology

Volunteers will have their lower leg muscles examined using ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, which are both free from ionizing radiation and not harmful to health, and the strength and power of their muscles explored by pushing against footplates while lying on examination beds.

Those interested in taking part in MMU’s ‘Stiletto Trial’ should contact Robert Csapo on r.csapo@mmu.ac.uk. The study will take approximately 2 hours. Volunteers must be aged between 20-50 years, in good health and have worn stilettos (minimum height of heels 5 cm) five times a week for at least the last two years. Those who have had recent injury of the lower limbs cannot be considered.

For further information on MMU’s Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health see www.mmu.ac.uk/irm