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Do High Heels Shorten Calf Muscles?

In the early 16th century, Venetian noblewomen hobbled around on high platform shoes called chopines. These shoes, resembling silk-covered stilts, were so high that most courtesans traveled with attendants to balance them. Chopines evolved into the high-heeled shoes we know today, but to some, women's footwear still seems as uncomfortable and impractical as it first was. A new study finds that high heels aren't just uncomfortable—they change a woman's legs.

Research from the Manchester Metropolitan University found that women who consistently wear high heels have shorter calf muscles than women who wear flats. Lead researcher Marco Narici says he was inspired to examine women's legs after hearing stories of secretaries in the 1950s who wore high heels every day and complained of pain when they donned flat shoes. Physicians have long been telling their patients that high heels damage calf muscles, but no one actually examined women's calves.

Using an ultrasound scan, Narici imaged the muscles of 11 women who wore high heels (and claimed to be in pain in flat shoes) and compared them to women who did not consistently wear heels.

The ultrasound revealed that the women who wore heels had calf muscles that were 13 percent shorter than the others. Heel wearers have sharper angles to their feet, most likely due to the smaller muscles. High heel wearers also had thicker and stiffer tendons.

The researchers believe the reason chronic heel wearers feel pain when switching to flats is because their tendons cannot stretch out properly.

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The Origins of 36 Marvel Characters, Illustrated
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No matter what their powers, every super hero has an origin story, from Spider-Man’s radioactive bite to Iron Man’s life-threatening chest shrapnel. In their latest poster, the designers at Pop Chart Lab have taken their infographic savvy to the Marvel Universe, charting the heroic origins of 36 different Marvel characters through miniature, minimalist comics.

Without using any words, they’ve managed to illustrate Bucky Barnes's plane explosion and subsequent transformation into the Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones’s car crash, the death of the Punisher’s family, and other classic stories from the major Marvel canon while paying tribute to the comic book form.

Explore the poster below, and see a zoomable version on Pop Chart Lab’s website.

A poster featuring 36 minimalist illustrations of superhero origin stories.
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Keep your eyes open for future Marvel-Pop Chart crossovers. The Marvel Origins: A Sequential Compendium poster is “the first release of what we hope to be a marvelous partnership,” as Pop Chart Lab’s Galvin Chow puts it. Prints are available for pre-order starting at $37 and are scheduled to start shipping on March 8.

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