You can totally do these at home
You know that moment when you suddenly go way over your pain threshold after a day in heels (unless of course you’re the Queen and you have someone to break your shoes in for you)? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could avoid it?
Sure, there’s the element of the shoes themselves not being comfortable, but what if there were exercises you could do to strengthen your calves and ankles that meant you didn’t experience pain as much? We asked Luke Grahame at Roar Fitness (@roarfitnessldn) for some tips.
‘What is important to understand is that walking regularly in high heels actually changes the way in which the foot functions and moves which can subsequently lead to chronic postural issues such as lower back pain,’ Luke explains.
‘Therefore, as well as strengthening the foot, we need to look at incorporating a number of corrective exercises and stretches in order to restore and maintain normal foot mobility and function, as well as walking pain free.’
1. Single leg squat matrix
Balancing on the right leg, squat as deep as you can whilst extending your raised left foot to tap the ground in front of you. Straighten up as you bring the extended foot back to centre. Repeat the action but this time extending the foot out to the side as you squat. Try to imagine that you are standing at the centre of a clock face and your foot is tapping a number each time you squat. Go through the numbers on the clock face from 12-6 and back again before changing legs. As well as strengthening and stabilising the foot and ankle through a wide range of angles, this exercise will also mobilise and release any tight tissue from spending too much time in your favourite heels. Repeat 3 times each leg.
2. Calf raises
As well as strengthening the calf muscles, a properly performed calf raise can help stretch out tight muscles and relieve ankle pain. Stand with toes on a step and heels off the edge. Lower the heels towards the floor and hold a deep stretch for 2 seconds before pushing through the toes to lift yourself up into a calf raise. Repeat 15 times for 3 sets. Note that in order to make the movement harder but more effective, perform these in bare feet and try to come right up on your toes on every rep.
3. Go barefoot
As mentioned before, heels have a negative effect on how your foot moves, so what better way to restore natural function and strengthen the foot than to walk as nature intended and go barefoot. Parks, gardens and beaches offer ample opportunity to stretch your toes out and get in a foot workout. For the more modest out there, there are barefoot trainers that offer the same benefit with less pinkies on show.
4. Ankle rotations
A very simple fix that can be performed virtually anywhere. Rotate the foot through its entire range of motion being sure to flex and extend the toes as well as the ankle. A very basic but effective trick that restores mobility and creates strength within tight ankles and feet. Perform 10 rotations each way before swapping feet. Repeat for a total of 3 sets.
5. Calf stretch
Heels cause the calf muscles to become short, tight, and irritated. Stretch them out by standing facing a wall with one foot forward. Keeping the foot flat and the heel down, push the front knee forward to try and touch the wall. If it touches easily then you’re too close. If it doesn’t touch then you’re too far away. Find a spot at which the knee just reaches the wall with a little effort and hold the stretch for 2 minutes each side.