Workouts and Stretches that Prevent Injuries from Wearing Heels
Whether you wear high heels on a regular basis or are an occasional wearer of high heeled shoes, they can have adverse effects on your legs if you do not counteract these problems. See below for a list of exercises/stretches that will not only minimize some of the damage wearing heels can do, but they also accentuate muscles that heels will show off naturally.
Calves: Wearing high heel shoes obviously raise the heel up, and in the process your calf muscles are in a constant shortened position, which can weaken the muscles when you take the shoes off. To counteract this, perform a wall calf stretch by approaching a wall and standing slightly less than arm’s distance from the wall. Step your left leg forward with your right leg back and bend your left leg and press through your right heel. Hold this pose for 20 to 30 seconds and repeat with legs switched.
Ankles: Your ankles take a beating when you wear heels constantly, so in order to strengthen your ankles against the stress placed on them, perform squats on a BOSU ball. BOSU balls force you to keep your center of mass over your base of support, making both sides of your body work equally to maintain your balance. This will reduce any wobbling or strength imbalance as your ankles strengthen.
Achilles Tendon: Your Achilles tendon attaches your calf muscle to your heel and it can become inflamed switching from heels to flats. To stretch out your Achilles tendon, stand on a step with your heels hanging just off of it. Rise up on your toes and then quickly drop your heel down. Repeat this action for three sets with 10 repetitions in each.
Here are some studies on high heels inguries.
Are High Heels Ruining Your Feet?
For many women, an outfit just isn’t complete without a fabulous pair of high heels. But while your legs may look fierce in those Manolos, you could be doing some immediate damage to them, and to your feet.
A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that heels can be hazardous to your health, especially depending on the height of the shoes and how often you wear them. Researchers asked nine young women to wear two-inch heels for at least 40 hours a week for a minimum of two years. They then compared their strides to those of ten young women who wore heels for fewer than ten hours per week. The women who wore heels daily walked with shorter and more forceful strides than the control group.
Even more troubling, their feet became reminiscent of a Barbie doll’s: flexed, with toes pointed, suggesting that their feet actually adapted to the heels. These results showed that wearing heels had caused the women’s calf muscles to shorten, leading to greater strain on the muscles and increasing the risk of injury over time.
Without knowledge of the damage done by high-heeled shoes women are put in danger of permanently harming their bodies. “High heels hurt and can cause significant health problems including bunions, heel pain, toe deformities and painful trapped nerves”. Many women experience lower back pain resulting from the extended wear of high-heeled shoes. Women are also more likely to sprain an ankle while wearing heels than while wearing flatter shoes. The constant wearing of a heeled shoe can shorten the Achilles tendon over time, causing the wearer to lose a range of motion in the foot. This can result in causing pain during any exercise, even one so simple as walking. Another health concern is the strain on the knee, which can result in osteoarthritis, a chronic degeneration of cartilage in the joints. A two-inch heel is enough to cause an increased amount of strain on the inner side of the knee, possibly setting the stage for the onset of this condition. Below are two diagrams showing the health dangers of extended high-heel shoe wearing, Figure 1.1 shows the injuries to the foot and Figure 1.2 shows the damages to the rest of the body.
Are High Heels Unhealthful?
If you’ve browsed a shoe department lately, you may have noticed that high heels are growing—and not just in popularity. Towering platforms, extreme wedges, and treacherous stilettos have flooded the marketplace in recent months, and most every designer and celebrity seems to be doing their part to participate in the trend.
So why the sudden footwear rise? Experts say the recession is to blame: “We have entered a moment of heightened impracticality in footwear,” says Elizabeth Semmelhack, author of “Heights of Fashion: A History of the Elevated Shoe”.
“Heel heights noticeably grew during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the oil crisis in the 1970s, and when the dotcom bubble burst in the 2000s.” Women’s shoes are now at an all-time high, and Semmelhack believes during tough economic times, there’s “a greater need for escapism.”