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4 easy exercises for high-heel wearers

Feb 17th 2014 at 8:49 PM

No matter how great they look or how good they make you feel, there's risk associated with your favourite high heels. We love wearing them, but darn it, why can't they be more comfortable?

High heels prop us into an unnatural stance that puts extra pressure on the ball of the foot, shortens the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle, tightens the calf muscles, and can cause a whole array of foot, ankle and even back problems. If you consider that we log thousands of miles in our lifetime, and that our feet provide the support through the journey, it's no wonder they can sometimes pipe up in painful protest.

Since sneakers don't exactly complement your favourite summer dresses, why not arm yourself with some foot sense, and walk away with happier, healthier high-heel appeal?

Here are 4 high-heel hints to keep the spring in your summer steps.

1. Tendon tightness
The Achilles tendon is the thick, strong tendon at the back of your foot that connects your calf muscle to your ankle bone and while it can withstand high forces, it's also injury prone. If you frequently wear high heels, you risk shortening and tightening calf muscles and the Achilles tendon because your heels have limited contact with the ground -- which aids in stretching both areas.

High heel help: Regularly stretch your calves and Achilles tendons, especially once you've stepped out of your stilettos.

Calf stretch: Standing about a foot from a wall, extend one leg behind you, keeping both feet flat on the floor. Point toes toward wall and keep rear knee straight. Move your hips forward, keeping lower back flat. Lean into the wall until you feel tension in the calf muscle of the extended leg.

Achilles stretch: Begin in the same position as above, but slowly bend the knee of the extended leg. As your hips lower, keep both heels in contact with the floor and you should feel a slight stretch in the Achilles tendon of the extended leg.

***Hold all stretches for 10 to 30 seconds or until tension releases. If pain or discomfort is felt, release the stretch.

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