For many of the women who come to see us with ankle, knee or lower back pain, the cause is the same. High heels.
Each time, we explain that they have two choices: to give up their heels and resolve the problem for good; or to continue to suffer in the name of style, but with exercises and stretches to help reduce and manage some of the worst side-effects. No prizes for guessing which the majority choose.
If you’re attached to your high heels, the following stretches – three times a day at least – will help give you maximum style points for minimum injury risk:
1. Calf stretch
Stand with your toes on the edge of a step and relax your heels down, until you feel a stretch through the back of your legs. Stretch for 45-60 seconds.
2. Thigh stretch
Counteracting the anterior tilt that heels cause to the pelvis. When in a standing position simply lift your ankle to your bum, pushing the hip forward. Hold for 45-60 secs. Repeat for the other leg.
3. Arch stretch
By shortening the muscles under the foot, high heels put pressure on the Achilles tendon and calf, and can cause the arch to fall and the knee to rotate internally. To stretch out these muscles, roll a golf ball slowly under the arch with as much downward pressure as you can take, especially on any knots. It’s painful but worth it – remind you of anything?
4. Toe stretch
An easy stretch that you can do at your desk. Pull your toes back and up, and hold for 60 secs. You’re working and strengthening the shin muscle, counterbalancing the shortening effects of heels on your calf muscles.
Remember, high heels are designed for standing around in looking glamorous, not for hiking. So wear flats to and from work and keep heels in your bag for going out.