Now, before I get started on my 4 tips to wearing your high heels whilst still being able to avoid pain, let me just say that I am NOT talking from experience (although there was that one time….). Let me also say that I would have loved for the title of this article to have read: “Never, ever wear high heels- they are incredibly bad for your feet, ankles, knees, backs and general posture”, however I am a realist and understand that high heels seem to be part of many women’s DNA (I also have a wife who owns an entire shoe cupboard- and yes it is filled with shoes).
So, if you must wear your high heels…..
- Avoid wearing high heels for long periods of time (more than three to four hours). Take a pair of flats (or better still, joggers) if you know you will be out for a long time so you can change into them later on or if you are walking for a long period of time.
- Perform regular calf stretches. The position your foot is in whilst wearing a heel (plantar flexion) places your calf muscles in a shortened positioned, causing the muscles to become tight over time. This tightness can cause pain in the heel and even alter your posture “further up the chain” affecting the position your knees and hips are in (TIP: try to perform calf stretches with your leg straight and slightly bent at the knee- this stretches the 2 major calf muscles).
- Use a Golf or tennis ball to self massage the calf muscles and plantar fascia underneath the foot. Rolling the ball directly on the calf muscle whilst applying pressure (best done rolling on the ground) is a great way to relieve tension of the calf muscle. Also rolling the ball directly underneath the foot, helps to release the fascia which lies over the arch of the foot, known as the plantar fascia. If this is very tight, you are at risk of developing plantar fasciitis and chronic heel problems.
- Have your Optimum Exercise Physiologist perform a detailed Postural analysis and Movement Screening to identify key areas that are tight and weak, so an individualized resistance and mobility/flexibility program can be prescribed, helping prevent further issues which may be exacerbated by wearing high heels.
Ok, one last rant/disclaimer: High heels push the center of mass in the body forward, taking the hips and spine out of alignment and altering the position of the foot and how the foot is to function. Wearing just a 2.5cm heel increases the pressure on the forefoot by 22%, whilst a heel that is 7.5cm increases the pressure on the forefoot by 76%. Almost 90% of women indicate that they’re feeling pain within an hour of wearing high heels… But I’m sure you already knew that!