We all love a pair of high heels, but those stilettos can be taxing on your feet, ankles, and calves. Even your sense of balance gets worked walking around in pumps. With some simple strength training and stretching, you can feel confident and comfortable in those heels.
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.
When it's time to dress up, putting on a pair of heels is an instant game changer. Aside from your favorite kicks, they are the ultimate way to boost confidence and complete a look. But heels are also an accessory that can show off your hard-earned time in the gym by giving your calves center stage. If you're looking to sculpt and define your legs for a special event or just want to to strengthen your calves to rock a pair of heels, consider adding these three exercises to your next workout.
- Raise that leg: Calf raises will shape and sculpt your lower legs in no time! Facing a wall for stability, begin with your feet flat against the floor; slowly raise both heels three inches off the ground, and then slowly lower yourself back down. You can do these alone or in between intervals during a circuit or running workout. Standing on a step with your heels partially extended out from over the stair will increase the challenge.
- Step on the StairMaster: The StairMaster is a machine dreaded by many, but the total-body results, especially in the calves, are incredible! A little burn and a couple of minutes will go a long way. For an extra challenge, alternate minutes stepping on your toes versus a flat foot. Don't have a gym membership or StairMaster? Actual stairs or the local high school stadium work just fine!
- Pack your jump rope: Pack this little tool in your gym bag and see results fast. If you want killer calves, incorporate a few jump-rope moves into the start and end of your usual workout. Alternating between two-feet jumps, one-foot jumps, and jogging in place will help your calves get high-heel ready. Take it to the next level by jumping higher and faster over time.
Head over heels for high heels? Don't forget to show your feet some love with these leg-lengthening exercises to prevent tightness and injury after a night spent in heels.
Source: Flickr User vestman
For many brides, the perfect wedding-day outfit includes a jaw-dropping white gown and a princess-worthy pair of heels. But if you're donning a pair of pumps for your big day, make sure you read these tips to keep your feet happy and healthy.
Stretches and exercises are important: Wearing heels too often can lead to different ailments, like bad posture, bunions, and tendinitis (not to mention the injuries that can happen if your heels cause you to fall), so help combat these problems and embarrassing tumbles down the aisle by regularly doing exercises and stretches that strengthen your ankles, calves, and feet. Here are four types of exercises high-heel wearers should be adding to their routine.
Switch to flats: A recent study found that women who wore high heels for 40 hours a week had permanent changes in their Achilles tendon and calf muscles, leading to muscle fatigue and increased risk of injury. The best solution? Wear flats only or alternate between heels and flats — especially leading up to your big day — so your muscles aren't overused, and your high-heel habit doesn't lead to a painful injury right before your wedding. Stashing a few pairs of flats for you and your bridesmaids to wear later at the reception can be a lifesaver after a full day wearing heels.
Practice postparty relief: The vows have been said, the cake's been cut, and you and your guests have danced the night away. Soothe achy feet the day after your wedding with — you guessed it — even more stretches (not to mention a cooling trick for sore soles). Get our tricks for relieving achy feet after a long night here.
High heels. You either love them or hate them, but you can't deny they are chic. We love the height boost and illusion of longer legs they offer, but we do realize they're not the best things for our feet. Unfortunately, recent research shows that these lovely shoes may be worse than previously thought.
In a study of longtime high heel wearers, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers found wearing heels actually shortens the fibers of the calf muscle, making the Achilles tendon stiffen instead of flex when walking. High heels keep feet in a pointed position, so even when habitual high heel wearers (those who wore heels at least 40 hours a week) slipped off the pumps, their feet were so used to walking with the heels raised that it became the new norm for their muscles and joints — think permanent Barbie feet. The constantly engaged calve suffers from serious muscle fatigue, but switching abruptly from heels to flat shoes, like sneakers, puts stiletto wearers at a greater risk for injury.
Keep reading to find out what you can do to heal your heel-wearing legs.
If the holiday parties have you living in heels, you've probably got some unhappy feet on your hands. Wondering how to beat the suffering? Here are some feet-relieving remedies to help you out.
- Prevent injuries by keeping your ankles and leg muscles strong. After all, who wants to make a wobbly party entrance? Take a few minutes a day to add some ankle-friendly exercises to your routine, like tiptoe walking, heel walks, and balance exercises. Find out the four important exercises you should be doing if you wear heels here.
- Don't stop there. If your feet are achy after a night of dancing on stilettos, relieve them while combating the muscle-shortening effects of sporting heels for an extended amount of time. Be sure to stretch them out with these seven stretches for high-heel wearers.
- Feet still achy? Find more relief with these five things you can do to treat your achy feet, and try to alternate wearing heels with flats to give your feet a rest!
I know that wearing high heels has some benefits, but Coco, Ice-T's wife, takes things to the next level by wearing stripper heels while strength training (something I learned from watching her new reality TV show, Ice Loves Coco). And that's not all I learned. She also runs on the treadmill (replacing her stripper heels with running shoes) with her bulldog Spartacus — as in, Coco and Spartacus share the treadmill together. It's clearly working for her, too. Coco may be curvaceous, but she also boasts a flat stomach and tiny waist.
While I've never seen a woman work out in heels at the gym, I have had my share of unusual sightings. Most recently I encountered a guy dressed head to toe in '80s hair-metal attire, blaring his iPod while flexing and grunting at himself in the mirror. Think you can top that? What's the craziest thing you've ever seen at the gym?
With the explosion of striptease, pole dancing, and high-heeled workouts, you can’t help but wonder if sporting stilettos actually tones your body. I love the sense of confidence I feel when stomping through the streets in a new pair of heels. But should we listen to our podiatrists and chiropractors when they warn us to stray away from our pumps? Check out the benefits of heels, and share what you think about high-heeled workouts.
Improved Baby-Making Muscles (and Sex Life!)
In 2008, Dr. Maria Angela Cerruto, a urologist at the University of Verona, Italy, studied 66 stiletto-strutting women under the age of 50 and concluded that wearing heels can help strengthen pelvic and abdominal muscles. To counter the elevated angle of a heel, women lean a little forward, thereby tightening abdominal muscles and tucking the pelvis under. This action increases the ability for pelvic muscles to contract, which leads to more gratifying sex, easier childbirth, and problems associated with urinary incontinence. The benefits of high heels are described as being similar to doing Kegels or holding Mula Bandha during yoga.
Part of a fit lifestyle, in my opinion, is living life to the fullest. Taking advantage of each moment and doing something fun is just as important for living a fit and healthy lifestyle as a proper fitness routine. Unfortunately, sometimes those two things get in the way of each other, and the most well-lived moments can turn into injuries that can sideline your workout routine. In the spirit of full disclosure, here are a few of the silly injuries I've recently received and a few suggested solutions for averting disaster.
Slave to fashion: Thinking I'd only be out of my Las Vegas hotel room for a few hours (famous last words), I donned a pair of sky-high heels. A few hours turned into many hours, and that turned into an incredibly sore IT band. I'm a runner, so that was not ideal; each step I took during runs for a week reminded me of my five-inch heel mistake.
Solution: When in Vegas, wear heels . . . I get it. But it would have been prudent to stash a pair of those slip-on shoes that take up about the same amount of purse real estate as a compact. Lesson learned. Alternatively? If you're stuck in heels, sit when you can and pay attention to how you're walking. Had I just slowed down and walked properly, I don't think I would have had close to the same problem.
There are plenty more! Check out the rest and share your own stories after the break.