New study probes the toll of high heels on the female footYou may love your Louboutins, but according to a new study, your feet and calves may not. Australian scientists reveal that regularly wearing high heels can shorten fibers in your calf muscles, putting you at risk for injury and altering the way you walk.

In a study published in The Journal of Applied Physiology, Australian researchers examined how high heels affect the wearer’s biomechanics and injury risk, in what The New York Times describes as one of the first studies of its kind. The scientists recruited nine young women who had worn high heels for at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of two years, along with another 10 young women who rarely, if ever, wore heels.

Findings revealed that the “heel wearers moved with shorter, more forceful strides than the control group, their feet perpetually in a flexed, toes-pointed position,” writes The New York Times. “This movement pattern continued even when the women kicked off their heels and walked barefoot. As a result, the fibers in their calf muscles had shortened and they put much greater mechanical strain on their calf muscles than the control group did.”

In addition, for the women who wore heels, their walking mostly engaged muscles rather than tendons, especially the Achilles tendon, leaving it weakened and potentially vulnerable to injury. Researchers added that this style of walking requires more energy to cover the same ground as someone in flats, and likely causes more muscle fatigue.

Problems can also arise when heel-wearers switch to sneakers or flat shoes, especially when working out, which could put them at risk for injury by forcing the foot into a new position.

Head researcher Neil J. Cronin advises that high-heel wearers try, if possible, to steer clear of the towering heights when selecting shoes. Opt for heels maybe “once or twice a week,” he told The New York Times, or “try to remove the heels whenever possible, such as when you’re sitting at your desk.”

A new British study also announced this week reveals that wearing high heels can lead to flat feet, or a weakening in the tendons that causes the arch of the foot to fall, causing pain and difficulty walking.