The High Price of Wearing Heels

There was a time in my youth when I desired to grow up and be a certain kind of woman – professional, feminine, poised and strong. As my mother watched her daily soap opera shows, I would sit and dream of being dressed in two-piece suits wearing high heels while strutting from one street to another in New York City.

What I didn’t know is women endure a lot for the sake of fashion.

For instance, take the high price of wearing heels.

I do have to say, high heels are glamorous. They are eye-catching.

They allow access to the three inches of height the gene pool neglected to pass down.

There is just something about a great, pair of high heels.

They represent an image of power and beauty, help to make our walk more feminine, and click in that oh-so-satisfying way with every step taken.

But had I know heels were first created for men, my obsession over them might have been nonexistent.

History of High Heels

For decades, high heels found their place on the feet of male soldiers, aristocrats and even royals in differing parts of the globe for very specific reasons. And when it comes to the surprising history of heeled shoes, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The origin of high heels can be traced back to the 15th century Persia when soldiers wore them to help secure their feet in stirrups.

Where’s the glamour now?

Persian migrants later brought the shoe trend to Europe, where male aristocrats wore them to appeal taller and more formidable.

This is relatable to today’s woman.

The pedestal-like heel transformed the upper-class European woman into towering figures. This was especially popular in Venice. The shoes were exceptionally high, so much so, maids were used as crutches.

The appearance of beauty has a history of going to great lengths.

In 1673, King Louis XIV introduced shoes with red heels and red soles to the French court. He restricted the wearing of such shoes to his circle of nobles. The practice was later taken up by royalty across Europe and became highly fashionable. The color coding identified the owner as superior and privilege.  

We get a glimpse of this when a woman goes out on the town in her red soled stilettos.

And then there is Chinese foot-binding, which died out in the early 20th century.

Despite the painful deformities, the body has adjusted over time.

Or has it?

Beauty is Pain

As one of Bob Dylan song suggests, “Behind every beautiful thing, there is pain.”

Women have grown up for decades hearing and believing, “beauty is pain.”

We’ve endured Brazilian waxes, curling iron burns, mascara brushes in our eyes and even the dreaded needle of youth, aka Botox.

But what is not in dispute here is that most high heels are not only uncomfortable, but all are bad on our knees.

In fact, one study concluded that heels put added pressure on the knees and can lead to degenerative changes in the knee joint. It also suggests high heels might contribute to osteoarthritis of the knee in women (who are twice as likely to get it than men).


So as we are searching for the fountain of youth, dressed in our best, we are actually causing damage to our body.

But, ladies, don’t worry. No need to trade in your heels for flats just yet. There is hope.

A Natural Ingredient of Hope

In a recent study published by The Journal of Arthritis (J Arthritis 8(4):285.), a large independent multi-center, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluated the efficacy of Stratum’s flagship ingredient, NEM®. brand eggshell membrane, in 166 subjects diagnosed with Grade 2 or Grade 3 osteoarthritis of the knee.

Results were seen in only 7 days of taking NEM®. By day 30, both knee pain and stiffness had improved by more than 30% in the NEM® -treated subjects. This study also employed a unique blinded, single-crossover design to compare subjects taking NEM® for 90 days versus subjects taking NEM® for 60 days (the former placebo subjects who began taking NEM® after Day 30).

A responder analysis found a statistically significant difference between the number of patients having at least a 15% decrease in pain, which was greater in the 90-day NEM® group (71% of subjects) compared to the 60-day NEM® group (53% of subjects).

“This is the largest study conducted to date involving NEM® and we are pleased that it was supportive of its fast time to efficacy, even in subjects with moderate to severe arthritis. This, combined with its cartilage protecting effects recently demonstrated in healthy individuals, makes NEM® the perfect adjunctive therapy for those with joint issues,” stated Kevin J. Ruff Ph.D., MBA – Sr. Director of Scientific & Regulatory Affairs for Stratum Nutrition.


Thankfully, more and more formulators are creating dietary supplements with Stratum’s joint health ingredient, NEM®, making it easier for us to feel our best while also looking our best.

Want to know more on how you can formulate your next product with NEM®? Let us know!


On a personal note, I can’t promise that I will trade in my heels for flats permanently, but I can promise myself to take better care of my joints.

Because when it comes to joint care, I won’t be one of those ladies sitting around sipping soda and quoting Cher, “If I could turn back time. If I could find a way.”

Because now I know - with the power of wearing heels comes great self-responsibility.