Massage clients who present with calf pain might need to put their Mahalo Blaniks aside for special occasions only, as new research shows regular high-heel wearing leads to shortened calf muscles.

British researchers used a small sample size: 11 women who regularly wear high heels and a control group of nine women, to test the theory that high heels cause structural and functional changes in the calf muscle–tendon unit

Gastrocnemius medialis fascicle length, pennation angle and physiological cross-sectional area, Achilles’ tendon length, cross-sectional area and mechanical properties, and the plantarflexion torque–angle and torque–velocity relationships were assessed in both groups, according to a summary from the journal in which the research was published.

“We conclude that long-term use of high-heeled shoes induces shortening of the [gastrocnemius medialis] muscle fascicles and increases [Achilles’ tendon] stiffness, reducing the ankle’s active range of motion,” the researchers noted.

The research was published today in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

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