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Should Madge have been dancing around in those high-heeled boots?

Madonna performs during the halftime show.

JIM YOUNG/Jim Young/Reuters

Yes, some of us tuned in to the Super Bowl just for Madonna's half-time performance. But even those firmly in the preach-to-the-converted crowd couldn't help but wince a little, hoping that Madge's high-heeled black leather boots wouldn't do her in.

She did stumble slightly while hoisting herself on top of those bleachers. Otherwise, there were a few shuffles where struts may have been the plan.

Clearly, the Material Girl has been too busy prepping for her performance to read a recent study on the perils of high heels.

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Australian scientists compared women who had worn high heels for at least 40 hours a week, for a minimum of two years, with women who rarely wore them - by hooking them up with electrodes and measuring their muscle activity while walking. All women were measured walking barefoot, and the high-heeled women were also studied while wearing their favourite shoes.

As the New York Times reports, "heel wearers moved with shorter, more forceful strides than the control group, their feet perpetually in a flexed, toes-pointed position.

"This movement pattern continued even when the women kicked off their heels and walked barefoot."

So, this meant that the fibres "in their calf muscles had shortened and they put much greater mechanical strain on their calf muscles than the control group did."

And that means a greater risk of strained muscles, even when these women trade in their heels for sneakers when working out, researchers said. They suggested limiting heels to once or twice a week. (No word on whether Madonna-esque cartwheels in heels are discouraged. It's probably a safe bet not to try them at home, though.)

Blogger Mary Fischer says the study is good news for moms who just can't fathom heels any longer.

"Let's face it, not all of us are able to pull a Victoria Beckham and successfully carry a baby without dropping her while wearing 6-inch-high strappy sandals," she writes.

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For the rest of us mortals, how bad do you think high heels are for us? Are you switching to flats any time soon?

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About the Author

Tralee Pearce has been a reporter at The Globe and Mail since 1999, starting as a writer in the paper’s Style section. She joined the new Life section for its launch in 2007. She covers parenting and family issues for the daily section. More

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