Heel pain exercises (now that you're back in high heels)
With those carefree, barefoot days on the beach fading into memory, it’s time to switch flip flops for heels and get back to stylish work and evening wear.
But as glamorous as those heels are, they can torture your feet and cause all kinds of aches and pains.
We’ve put together a package of exercises to stretch out your feet and legs - so you can strut that pavement runway in style.
1. The bookworm
The plantar fascia ligament is usually the culprit when it comes to heel pain. This tricky customer is the cord-like structure that runs the length of your foot arch, from ball to heel. The bookworm exercise gently stretches it, plus you’ve got the added bonus of a workout for the Achilles’ tendon and calf muscles. Stack a couple of thick books on the floor, about 50cm from a wall. Stand on the books so your heels just hang over the back edge. Put your hands up to either side of your face and lean forward until supporting your weight against the wall. Hold this position for 15 seconds.
Carry on supporting yourself on the wall but straighten your back and raise yourself up and down on the balls of your feet ten times. Then put all your weight on your right foot. Lean towards the wall again, hold for 15 seconds, lean back straight and do ten raises on your right foot.
Repeat on your left foot.
2. The water bottle stretch
This is another great stretch for the plantar fascia ligament. If you’re in a lot of pain, freeze the water bottle in advance - the ice will help cool any inflammation.
Sit down and put a water bottle on the floor. Roll the sole of your foot, from heel to toe, over the bottle, for about a minute.
Repeat on the other foot.
3. The foot pull
To loosen up the foot ligaments, it’s a smart idea to use your body to help you stretch. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front. Bend your right leg and reach over your right toes to grasp your foot. Pull the ball of your foot towards you and hold for 20 seconds. Do the same on your left foot and repeat three times for each foot.
4. The calf lengthener
Over time, high heels addicts will find their calf muscles and Achilles tendons have actually shrunk. This is another great tip to stretch them out again.
Stand with both feet together, facing a wall, about 75cm away. Place both hands on the wall at shoulder height for support. Step forward so your right foot is close to the wall. Bend your right knee, keeping both heels on the ground. You should feel a stretch along your left calf. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three times on each foot.
5. The towel stretch
As an alternative to the foot pull, sit down on the floor with your legs out in front. Roll up a towel lengthwise and loop it over the top of your right foot.
Hold the ends of the towel and gently pull towards you until you feel a stretch in your foot. Repeat three times on each foot.
If your heels are aching, dedicate half an hour a day to these nifty exercises and you should soon be pain free. To get the maximum stretch, do them when your muscles are relaxed, after a warm bath. Then pop your best shoes on and hit the town.