Not long ago, Neil J. Cronin, a postdoctoral researcher, and two of his colleagues at the Musculoskeletal Research Program at Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, were having coffee on the university's campus when they noticed a young woman tottering past in high heels. "She looked quite uncomfortable and unstable," Dr. Cronin says.
Some observers, particularly women, might have winced in sympathy or, alternatively, wondered where she'd bought stilettos. But the three researchers, men who study the biomechanics of walking, were struck instead by the scientific implications of her passage. "We began to consider what might be happening at the muscle and tendon level" in women who wear heels, Dr. Cronin says.