Each day, women across the world walk, climb, and even jog while wearing high heels. Each day, women spend a majority of their waking hours in an altered posture that can leave them with wobbly ankles, pain in their knees and lower back, and a weakened core that contributes to shallow breathing. All of this, just from the shoes on their feet! That said, high heels are a fashion statement here to stay. Short term relief from discomfort may come by simply taking them off throughout the day, but these five tips can help you counteract the ill effects of your favorite pair of heels.
Practice Regular Self Massage
There are three things every active woman should own to rejuvenate tired muscles - a golf ball, a lacrosse ball, and a foam roller. Performing self-massage techniques on your feet, calves, and quadriceps will do wonders in helping tight muscles to relax. While standing, use a golf ball or lacrosse ball (or even a can of hair spray!) to massage the bottom of your feet, using a generous amount of pressure. Using a ball or foam roller, massage your calves, quadriceps, and the highest point on the front of your hips.
Correct an Over-Extended Spine
Wearing heels each day can weaken your core, contributing to an over-extended spine. If you notice that you mostly take shallow breaths from the top of your chest, breathing exercises that activate your diaphragm and obliques will help stimulate the muscles around your core. Performing alternating extensions of your legs and arms in the quadruped and supine position will strengthen your mid-section, while lying hip bridges can strengthen your glutes, helping to maintain a stable pelvic position.
Restore Toe and Ankle Mobility
Your toes and ankles can be severely impacted by high heels, making a normal gait nearly impossible while walking or running. Performing toe pulls and towel crunches can help restore proper toe function. Prior to your workouts, or at the end of a long day, mobility exercises that improve dorsiflexion and general ankle strength will help protect you from injury and improve nearly every aspect of your lower body conditioning. Walking barefoot in sand is also great for conditioning your feet.
Shift Your Center of Gravity
A lifted heel can cause you to shift your center of mass forward, placing increased stress on the knees and a general forward lean. The last step in correcting posture problems caused by high heels is to re-teach the body to shift its weight backwards, away from the toes. Squeeze your glutes together to set your pelvis into the correct position, brace your core and shift your weight backwards over the center of your foot. Practice box squats in the gym, a movement that mimics sitting back onto a chair, to increase the strength in your hips, glutes, and hamstrings.
Kick Your Feet Up
Finally, if you are looking for relief throughout the day, simply take off your heels whenever possible. Carry a golf ball in your purse, and spend ten minutes mid-day releasing tension in your feet and stretching out your calves.
Sarah Dalton is the founder of Able Mind Able Body, a Las Vegas based company offering motivational lifestyle coaching and personal training services. She takes a holistic approach to healthy living, and educates others on the benefits of nutrition, exercise, and emotional health. Visit www.ablemindablebody.com for more info.