Footwear and posture. Compensatory strategies for heel height

B. J. De Lateur, R. M. Giaconi, K. Questad, M. Ko, J. F. Lehmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The belief that wearing high-heeled shoes increases lumbar lordosis is firmly ingrained in clinical folklore. Proponents of negative heel footwear argue that because high positive heels increase the lumbar lordosis, negative heels will decrease the lumbar lordosis. Quantitative documentation of the assumption regarding high heels is not to be found in the literature, although sporadic attempts to prove this assumption have been made throughout the 20th Century. Although other effects, such as decreased gait speed and step length, and increased knee flexion at heel strike have been found in more than one study, no increase in lumbar lordosis has been found. Where an actual decrease in lordosis has been found, authors tend to explain it away as inconsistent with what every clinician feels that he or she has observed. We felt it appropriate, then, to conduct both a static and a dynamic study to assess the effects of heel height on lumbar spine and lower limb joint kinematics in the sagittal plane, as well as other strategies to compensate for heel height. The results indicate that the greatest compensation is at the ankle and knee. Where a significant effect occurred in the lumbar spine (males, dynamic study), high heels decreased the lumbar lordosis, i.e., resulted in less swayback rather than more.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-254
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1991
Externally publishedYes


  • Back
  • Gait
  • Lordosis
  • Posture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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