Killer Heels that Kill!!!

August 25, 2010

The way we humans walk is very complex. We’ll just look at the centre of gravity.

When the centre of Gravity of any object

passes over its base it falls over.


We humans walk by falling over. We use one foot as a leaver to push our centre of gravity slightly upward and forward over our foot. If the other foot didn’t swing forward we would fall over.


High heels make walking difficult for woman for many reasons.

They cause problems with knee joints and back pain. High heels put extra stress on the ball of the foot and also cause foot calluses from increased pressure on the front and side of the foot. Research shows stilletto wearers are walking a dangerous line ( 10 th August 2010 Herald Sun )That’s the good news.

High heels make the wearer unstable. High heels raise your Centre of Gravity and narrow your base. (See Diag: Each foot forms the hypotenuse of a triangle.) Mathspig noticed many girls in Europe – Nice, Cannes and Corsica – walking in extra high stiletto heels down very, very steep slopes and they were struggling.

The problem involves SIMPLE GEOMETRY.  Look at the high heels below.  I’ve included a range of angles as the foot is bent in a high heel shoe so I”m covering all bases. Literally.

Now put these shoes on and stand on a hill with a 30-degree slope.

You can see the resulting angles (slope plus high-heel) range from 62-degrees to 83-degrees. When you move forward down a hill in high heels you are VIRTUALLY throwing yourself off a cliff with each step.

We walk by falling a little with each footstep.  When you walk down a slope you fall sooner and further. This SOONER, FURTHER, SOONER, FURTHER… momentum gets you swinging each foot forward faster and faster to stop yourself falling.  You may end up running down the hill.

If you are walking down hill and also wearing high heels this is the point your friends yell ‘Gooood byyyyye!!!!’ as you are unstable, have less muscle control – your foot muscles have limited up-and-down movement – and you have reduced friction -the ball of the foot only – to stop yourself slipping.

Of course, walking up hill in high heels should be easy!!!!!


UPDATE: 26 March 2012

Here is an image I never thought I’d see. 

On the 17 March 2012  The AGE (see pic above) published a report on MODEL WOBBLES ON THE CATWALK. During Fashion Week in Melbourne models, who got the wobbles had to stop walking and take off their high high-heel shoes. Why? Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. If models can’t wear high high heel shoes why would any girl? The one skill models do have is the ability to walk in high heels. 


  1. […] the way, Kerry Cue, over at Mathspig, has a great post titled “Killer Heels that Kill! Surely this should be of interest to many girls? This entry was posted in Games, Maths […]

  2. This is really a very interesting entry

    • I do this out of a love for maths. So your comments make it all worthwhile. Cheers Mathspig

  3. […] Oooooooooooooooo!!!!!!! the shoes the girls weere on the Red Carpet kill. In fact, Mathspigs Killer Heels that Kill post has been so popular you should have a little look, […]

  4. Great Calculations, Makes a lot of sense.

  5. Thanks for sharing your nice info.

    • Hello mathspiggies,

      How irionic. Slip and Fall lawyers like this post. Cheerio Mathspig

  6. […] 36. Killer heels that really kill. […]

  7. Could you help me understand why people who are taller or have shorter feet are impacted more by wearing heels? Thank you!

    • Hello Jenny, in 6 cm heels people with shorter feet end up with their foot at a very steep angle. The impact of heels on height relates to raising the centre of gravity. Cheerio Mathspig

  8. I wear now exclusively high-heels shoes (9cm and more) and love it. I’m not very fond of sports, etc but I guess this is a real challenge that I like. Of course all what you say here of the mathematical model is correct…. and does not realy explain why many girls (and some man, including Louis XIV) like to wear high-heels shoes. Just to say, I’m a 68 years old Maths professor at Université de Nice, and my students get used to my shoes and, I guess, most of them appreciate!

    • HElloooo Marc and/or Francine,
      I goggled you, of course. NIce is a glorious city. I was there when you were celebrating your 150th Birthday for the return of NIce from Italian control to French rule. Now I’m not sure who wears the high heels in your family. No matter. HIghs heel are a fashion statement and fashion is not rational. Many of us are willing to sacrifice dignity, comfort and cold hard cash just to keep up with the fashion of the day. So enjoy flouncing around in your high heels, just be careful walking down those steep hills. Cheers Mathspig
      Melbourne, Australia

  9. […] Why killer heels can kill! […]

  10. […] More on killer heels here. […]

  11. […] 36. Killer heels that really kill. […]

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