Why do shoes have heels?

KnowHow team explains: Shoes are made for walking, jogging, hiking, even dancing. But in the centuries since our ancestors first wrapped their feet in woven grasses and animal skins to protect them from rough surfaces, function has clashed with fashion in the design of our footwear. The crocodile-hide loafers and cowboy boots that cross paths with dress oxfords on today’s city streets are often chosen for what they say about their wearer rather than for comfort.


Human feet probably evolved to help us walk comfortably across natural terrain in the African savannahs, where the modern humans originated millions of years ago. The surface of such natural grasslands and forest floors used to be inherently padded, and therefore each step taken by our ancestors did not jolt his or her body.

But our social evolution did not keep pace with the biological evolution. The surfaces our ancestors walked on became increasingly harder, ranging from stone to marble stripped of all natural padding. But the body didn’t have time to adapt with the change.

Which is why the heels and balls of human feet take a lot of abuse when we walk; they absorb a great deal of weight over a small surface area that comes in contact with the feet. So to protect the area that strikes the ground with most force we began wearing padded footwear. The wide, blocky heels on shoes, especially those that are made of soft materials such as rubber, help to cushion the feet.

Because they are higher than the rest of the sole, they also shift the weight of the body slightly off the heel and forward onto the rest of the foot, so the heels don’t have to take so much of the load. High-heeled shoes, however, shift the centre of gravity so far forward that much of the weight is borne by the balls of the feet.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

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