Do Heels Give You a Workout?

If you’re looking for a workout that’s a little bit different, you might want to try heels! That’s right – wearing heels can actually give you a bit of a workout. Of course, you’ll want to be careful and not overdo it, but a little bit of walking in heels can be a great way to get some exercise.


Many women frequently go shopping for the perfect pair of heels and are faced with a dilemma – the stylish shoes they love, or the comfortable shoes they need. Often, it seems that stylish comes at the expense of comfort but do heels give you a workout?

The answer is yes. Wearing high heels can give you a leg workout and provide numerous health benefits due to 3 key features: stability, posture and muscle toning. High-heeled shoes offer extra support for your shins and arch of your foot and force you to remain upright to maintain proper balance. This improved posture helps strengthen lower back muscles as well as engaging end muscles in the legs, abs, buttocks and calves. Regular walkers in high heels can experience better balance and reduction in muscular imbalances over time because they only have one elevated platform to adjust to.

For those looking to improve musculature tone while still having style, wearing heels may just be the perfect solution.

Anatomy of the Foot

Wearing heels can provide a unique form of exercise for your foot muscles, but it is important to understand the anatomy of the foot before buying a pair. The foot consists of 28 bones, 33 joints, and tons of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that work together to provide support and stability. In this article, we will explore the anatomy of the foot and how it is affected by wearing heels.


The muscles in the foot contribute to the complex network of bones, ligaments, and tendons which sustain the weight and movement of the body during standing and walking. The muscles provide strength for balance and stability, giving a cushioning effect that aids in normal gait.

The main muscles located in the foot are:
-Tibialis anterior: Located on the front of shin bone, runs along lateral side of shin bone up to medial cuneiform bone at base of big toe. Flexes ankle joint and helps control motion of toes.
-Flexor hallucis longus: Runs down inside knee along fibula outside tibialis anterior, attaches at base big toe. Flexes metatarsophalangeal joint (big toe) allowing for better arch support
-Extensor digitorum longus: Located on top outer calf muscle (on lateral side), runs beneath peroneus brevis attaching onto each phalanges next five toes assisting in dorsifexion motion of ankle joint and enables great toe up into plantar flexion position
-Flexor digitorum longus: Located on inner side near Tibialis posterior tendon, runs downward alongside tibia attaching onto each long phalanges at bases of second through fifth toes aiding overall gait control when pushing off during walking or running
-Peroneus Longus: Runs from outer ridge calf muscle (peroneals) to fifth metatarsal on bottom foot oversees general propulsion throughout gait cycle responsible for eversion or turning outward during midphase stance
-Soleus muscle: Runs from underneath gastrocnemius underside knee attaching all way down to upper bulbous part heel calcaneus directly stabilizing arch often used called little posture muscle


Tendons are strong fibrous connective tissues that attach your muscles to one another as well as to your bones. Tendons act like wires, transferring power and force from one area of the foot to another. There are several different tendons located in the feet and ankles, including the Achilles tendon, plantar fascia, posterior tibial tendon and peroneal tendons. When the tendons become tight or shortened, pain can occur at the site of origin.Tendons also help stabilize both foot and ankle; when they become weakened due to either stretching or overuse, you may experience pain in any number of locations in the foot and lower leg. Plantar fasciitis is a common source of heel pain which is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia tendon that runs along the bottom of your foot from heel to toe on each side. Taking care of these tendons through proper stretching and exercise strengthens them, lessening or even eliminating potential sources for heel pain.


The body of the foot is composed of 26 bones and more than 30 joints, as well as muscles, tendons and ligaments that work together to allow for both stability and flexibility. Bones provide structural support for the foot and ankle, helping to maintain balance during daily activities.

The tarsal bones form the main part of the rearfoot – the calcaneus (heel bone), navicular, talus, cuboid and three cuneiforms (medial cuneiform, intermediate cuneiform and lateral cuneiform) are known as tarsal bones. There are also five metatarsal bones which form most of the forefoot. These consist of a medial or first metatarsal located between the other four signifying its importance in stabilizing the body during ambulation. Other toe bones are variously known as sesamoid bones or phalanges. The sesamoid bones which rest in tendons under the first metatarsal head provide extra cushioning allowing transmission of power during contact with ground surfaces while walking or running. The thirteen phalanges within each foot enable different degrees of motion at each joint providing invaluable adaptability to everyday activities where spinal stabilization is diminished due to gravity or leg positions.

The Effects of Wearing Heels

It is no secret that heels can drastically change a woman’s appearance, but what a lot of people don’t know is that heels can also provide some physical benefits as well. Wearing heels can create subtle changes in the body, such as increased muscle tone and improved posture. In this article, we will be discussing the effects of wearing heels and the potential workouts they can offer.

Increased Muscle Activity

When wearing high heels, many muscles throughout the body have to work harder than usual due to the lack of support offered by the shoe. The flat sole and thin heel of a high heel forces your calf muscles to contract and expand with every step you take. This creates increased muscle activity in your calves, thighs and glutes as they must work harder in order to balance your body when walking in heels. Your foot also flexes more than usual when you’re wearing heels, which can cause pain or discomfort in the long run.

In addition, studies have shown that there can be long term effects on muscle activity resulting from prolonged wear of high heels. Those who regularly wear shoes with a two-inch or higher heel may experience chronic calf tightness which can lead to an increased risk of knee injuries from over-stretching and increased foot pronation (roll inward). The American Physical Therapy Association has found that people who regularly wear high heels are more likely to experience Achilles tendinitis (pain at the back of your heel), plantar fasciitis (pain on the bottom of your feet) as well as bunion formation due to altered pressure on their feet.

Improved Posture

One of the main benefits of wearing heels is that they help you maintain and improve your posture. When you’re standing upright, your heel will be quicker to compensate for any shifts or strain in your feet and legs. Heel height can also offer lower back support and make it easier to keep your shoulders back without effort. Heels force the wearer to use their stomach muscles in order to maintain balance, which is a bonus for those looking to shape their core. Many experts even suggest that wearing high heeled shoes regularly can help prevent chronic lower back pain due to improved posture and stronger muscles.

Improved Balance

Wearing heels can have a positive effect on your balance. Heels force a person to stand up straight, elongate the body and adjust their stride while walking, all of which help them maintain balance. This muscle activity then strengthens the muscles in the calves and thighs, leading to enhanced stability and improved proprioception (the ability to sense where parts of your body are in space). The improvement in muscle strength helps reduce strain when walking or running, helping you stay more balanced. Wearing heels has also been linked to better posture and better coordination of the feet with other body movements.

The Benefits of Wearing Heels

Wearing heels, despite many downfalls, comes with several unexpected benefits. Aside from making you look more polished and put together, wearing heels can actually be beneficial for your overall health. Not only can they help to improve your posture, but they also provide you with a low impact workout that can help to tone and strengthen your muscles. Let’s dive into the details to learn more.

Improved Leg and Core Strength

Wearing heels can help tone and strengthen your legs, glutes, and core. When you walk in heels, your body has to adjust its center of gravity so you can balance. This requires extra effort from the muscles in your legs and glutes, as well as your core — all the way from the hip up to the neck — to ensure stability while walking or standing. Wearing high heels also involves more calf activation than walking without them. Furthermore, depending on the height of your heels and how long you wear them for, this improved muscle activation during wear can help tone and strengthen these particular areas over a consistent period of time. This toning can also translate into increased muscular endurance as well — allowing people who frequently wear high-heeled shoes to walk or stand for longer periods of time without tiring out their leg muscles as quickly.

Increased Calorie Burn

Wearing heels helps to increase the number of calories you burn while standing and walking. A study done in 2006 by the University of Winnpeg concluded that with every inch of elevation, walking energy expenditure can increase by as much as 7%. Heels also require more effort to walk in, which causes your muscles to have to work harder and burn more energy.

When wearing high heeled shoes, the majority of your weight is shifted forward into your toes, leading you to stand taller. This action activates the core muscles in your abdomen and back allowing for improved posture and balance. It also puts added strain on the calf muscles which can lead to increased muscular development. Additionally, increased heel heights can assist wearers who suffer from flat feet or foot pain due to plantar fasciitis or tendinitis as it helps continue maintain an arched foot position when standing which can help improve symptoms associated with some podiatric ailments.

Improved Muscle Tone

Heels, when worn on a regular basis, can help improve the tone of the muscles in your calves. When you walk in heels, you are forced to use more of your calf muscle than when wearing flats because they require more effort to balance and walk. This helps to build and strengthen the calf muscles and can give them a toned appearance. Wearing heels on a regular basis can also strengthen lower leg muscles such as your hamstrings, quadriceps and Achilles tendon. As an added bonus, having strong leg muscles helps with posture and improves physical coordination. Additionally, being able to keep good posture adds an air of confidence which is an important factor at work or in other social settings.


Overall, the evidence suggests that wearing heel can give you a beneficial workout. High heels can help you to strengthen muscles, improve posture and balance, increase flexibility and mobility and even boost your heart rate. Of course, it is important to be mindful if you are wearing high heels. Pay attention to your body and posture, be aware of your surroundings and never sacrifice comfort for looks. If you find yourself in pain or discomfort while wearing high heels, it’s best to take a break or switch back into some flats. Ultimately, wearing high heels is about finding the right balance for you and what makes feel your most confident!

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