The Social - High heel stretches

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Stretches to help you deal with high heel pain

July 25, 2016

THE SOCIAL

Wearing high heels is a common source of foot, ankle, knee, hip and back pain for many women.  High heels cause your pelvis to tilt forward leading to tight hip flexor muscles. This puts stress on your lower back and the ligaments at the front of your knee potentially causing back pain, knee pain and even torn ligaments at the front of your knee. Studies have shown that just a 2 inch heel puts 23% more load at the front of your knee.
 
Standing or walking in heels for long periods of time will also cause your calf muscles to tighten and your Achilles tendon to shorten, which can lead to calf strains and Achilles tendonitis. It only takes 6 months of wearing heels for your Achilles tendon to shorten. 
 
An inch of heel height tilts you forward about 10 degrees. Since your weight is shifted forward to the balls of your feet, you are no longer using your arches to balance your weight. This can cause inflammation in the nerves that run between your toes leading to foot pain and the formation of bony growths like bunions.


DANCER’S POSE

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Bend one knee and reach for your ankle behind you. Your fingers should be on the outside of your ankle while your thumb wraps around the inner part. 
  3. Raise your other arm towards the ceiling. 
  4. Keeping your knees facing forward, gently kick your leg back into your hand. 
  5. Let the weight of your foot in your hand tilt your hip forward as your leg extends behind you - until you feel a stretch across your chest and hip. You should be looking directly in front of you with your raised arm parallel to the ground. 
  6. Try to hold this pose for one minute and repeat it twice on each side. 


What it does: Wearing high heels causes the hip flexors resulting in your pelvis tilting forward. This posture not only helps to stretch your hip flexors but it also strengthens your core, glutes and legs simultaneously which are all responsible for stabilizing you while you walk in high heels.


STANDING ADDUCTOR STRETCH

  1. While standing, bring your leg up so that your thigh is parallel to the ground and your knee is bent to 90 degrees. 
  2. Grab your big toe with your 2nd and 3rd fingers and your thumb. 
  3. When you feel that you have your balance, kick your leg forward so that your leg is straight. The standing leg and the leg in front of you should both be straight and your hips should point forward. 
  4. Slowly bring your leg out to the side so that the inner thigh is facing the front of the room. 
  5. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat on the other leg.


What it does: This exercise strengthens the legs and ankles, stretches the backs of the legs and improves your balance. By doing this exercise you will have more stability while wearing high heels and be able to walk in them comfortably for a longer period of time.

STANDING HAMSTRING STRETCH

  1. While standing, bring your leg up so that your thigh is parallel to the ground and your knee is bent to 90 degrees. 
  2. Interlock your fingers and wrap them under the arch of your foot. 
  3. When you feel that you have your balance, kick your leg forward so that your leg is straight. The standing leg and the leg in front of you should both be straight and your hips should point forward. 
  4. Hold for 15-20 seconds and repeat on the other leg.


What it does: This is a great stretch for the hamstrings and calf muscles. Since the calf muscles and hamstrings shorten when you wear heels it is important to elongate and stretch them to prevent calf, foot and Achilles problems.


TOPPLING TREE

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. 
  2. Extend your arms over your head and interlock your fingers, releasing your pointer fingers and pointing them towards the ceiling. 
  3. Take one step in front of you and slowly bend forward as your back leg extends straight behind you, with your toes pointing to the back wall. You should be looking straight ahead while keeping your arms next to your ears. 
  4. Stop bending forward when your back is parallel to the floor. 
  5. Try to keep your back leg in line with the rest of the body so that you look like a β€˜T’ from the side. 
  6. You only need to hold this posture for 10 seconds. Repeat twice on each side. 


What it does: By engaging your glutes and core at the same time, this pose helps to strengthen to muscles necessary to walk in high heels. Balancing while you are toppled forward also helps to strengthen the arches in your foot to provide additional support while you are wearing heels.  This will help prevent foot problems like neuromas and bunions.


ANKLE CIRCLES

  1. While standing, raise one leg out in front of you so that it is above the ground.
  2. Draw circles in a clockwise motion with your foot. 
  3. Repeat this 10 times and then go counter clockwise for another count of 10. Repeat on the other foot.


What this does: Wearing stilettos can restrict the amount of circulation going through the ankle and foot. By moving your ankles in circles, you create a dynamic stretch that allows for better blood flow and less swelling and pain in your feet.