There may be benefits to working out in heels, but those leg-lengtheners can also be bad news for your body. Constant heel-wearing can lead to a host of problems, from inflamed nerves to long-term joint problems. Scary stuff, right? I'm a high-heel fan, but after listening to a long explanation (read: lecture) about the horrible effects of high heels from my trainer last week, I've been trying to combat a bit of the damage. Read on for four important types of strengthening and stretching exercises for anyone who is head over heels for high heels.
- Calves: Hoofing it on heels leaves your calf muscles in a shortened position, which can mean weakened muscles when the heels come off. Remember to stretch after wearing heels in order to give those muscles relief. The classic yoga pose Downward Dog lengthens the calves, as do these simple stretches.
Find three more important areas every high-heel wearer should strengthen after the break.
- Ankles: Walking on stick-thin stiletto heels is no small feat. To help prevent a tumble and serious injury, incorporate simple exercises that strengthen your ankles, like walking on your tiptoes and doing squats on the BOSU.
- Balance: The lift you get from wearing heels also challenges your body's sense of equilibrium, which can mean a lot of muscles are working to keep you upright. This can lead to more pressure on your lower back, so add a few one-legged yoga moves to your morning routine, like Tree Pose, or trace the alphabet with one foot while standing on the other leg; this exercise strengthens the muscles around both ankles. Also focus on ab-strengthening exercises to help your body reposition itself correctly when you've been strutting around in those four-inchers.
- Achilles tendon: If you're a regular heel wearer, then switching abruptly from heels to flats can cause Achilles tendonitis — when your Achilles tendon, which attaches your calf muscle to the heel, becomes inflamed. Make sure you keep your Achilles tendon happy with a few strengthening stretches like this one: stand on a step or curb with your heels hanging off, and rise up and down on your toes.