Wearing high heels is bad for you. You probably already knew that. But did you know that even your favorite athletic shoes likely have a small heel? Any bit of positive heel can alter your alignment, and your gait.
A positive heel shifts your weight onto the front of your foot (which is not designed to bear all of your weight), and holds your foot rigid in plantar flexion. Your whole body then has to compensate for the forward shift to keep you upright. The constant plantar flexion semi-permanently shortens your achilles and calf muscles.
Many shoes, most especially high fashion sexy heels, have a narrow toe box that is smooshing your poor toes together. This, combined with the heel, and rigid sole, totally changes your gait, causing you to smash into the ground with way more force than you would use if you were barefoot. Can we say, “Ouch!” all the way from the feet up to the neck?!
Your body adapts to the positions you put it in on a regular basis, and the movements you do habitually. Maintain the positions long enough, and do the same movements often enough, and your body WILL adapt with shortened, atrophied muscles, bones pulled out of correct alignment, and PAIN. This happens with prolonged and frequent chair sitting, as well as prolonged and frequent heel wearing (again I’m including shoes with any sort of heel).
I am a big fan of going barefoot. Check this out for the benefits of going barefoot.
But here’s my confession: I LOVE HIGH HEELS. Yep, this barefoot girl loves killer heels, and especially high heeled boots.
So, if wearing high heels is so bad for you, and going barefoot has so many great benefits, why do I still wear high heels?
I really only wear heels for nights out, photo shoots, and in the bedroom (fancy, fun, and fucking). It makes me feel fabulous and sexy. What can I say? I love dressing up. I feel free and like a Bad-ass, Rock Star.
If I could wager a guess, wearing high heels probably makes you feel the same way.
Also I feel free when I take off my heels, and realize why I don’t wear high heels every day! I can also see what happens to my feet after only wearing heels for a few minutes or hours. The small toe boxes squish my toes together and the heel puts tons of pressure on my metatarsals.
So, here’s what I do to minimize the damage that comes from wearing high heels (and what you can do too).
- Aim to go barefoot as much as possible, or in minimal shoes if you must wear shoes. Barefoot as much as possible, means 80-90% of the time.
- Spend lots of time correcting your feet and your alignment with the exercises in the video.
- Spend extra time doing your foot exercises after a session of heel wearing.
Fancy Feet Exercises
Take a good look at your feet with your socks off. Are your toes smooshed together? Is the joint of your big toe sticking out to the side (bunion)? Is the side of your foot on the ground (flat feet)? Are your toes curling or crooked?
Take a good look at your feet, ankles, and knees in a mirror. Are they all stacked exactly on top of each other? Are your feet pointing straight ahead? Not kinda straight ahead, but STRAIGHT ahead? And once you’ve got that, where are your knees? Now that your feet are straight ahead, are your knees rotated inward? Rotate them outward, but KEEP YOUR FEET POINTING STRAIGHT AHEAD.
Next, get your weight off the front of your feet. Back your ass up! You may feel like you’re going to fall backwards and that’s okay! You should not look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. All joints should be directly stacked on top of each other.
Holding hands with your feet which is exactly what it sounds like, this will help get your toes un-smooshed.
Spreading the toes apart– lift them up and put them down one by one. Pinky toe to big toe is usually easiest, then challenge yourself by going from big toe to pinky toe. Even if you can’t get it at first, just trying will give you benefits.
Rolling on the ball. You can start with a tennis ball and graduate to a firmer ball, like a lacrosse or golf ball. Simply roll it around under your foot paying attention to the sore spots and working them out.
Calf stretch (not in the video, but VERY important). If your calves are very tight, start with a rolled towel, then you can progress to a firmer and higher surface like a yoga block. Keeping all the alignment points from above in play, place the front of your foot on the towel and gradually bring the non-stretching leg from behind to be even with the stretching leg. Don’t let the hips move forward, or the feet turn out.
You can wear heels without these steps, but you do so at your own risk. Now you know the risks of wearing high heels, and have read about the benefits of going barefoot, you can make an informed decision about your footwear.
It’s like eating dessert. Eat some cake some of the time, but not ALL the cake, ALL the time!
And if your feet, ankles, knees, hips, or any other body part is already compromised and/or in pain–please do NOT compound the problem by wearing heels (that includes your quarter inch athletic shoes).
When deciding whether to wear heels, or more foot-friendly choices ask yourself:
Can my body bounce back easily?
Would it be more loving to myself to be wearing flats or going barefoot?
Breakin’ it Down
1. Be barefoot or in minimal footwear 80-90% of the time.
2. Do your foot exercises consistently.
3. Pay special attention to your feet after wearing “bad” shoes.
4. Be confident and Kick-Ass whatever you’re wearing. Whether you’re wearing stilettos or naked feet–
Rock It Like You Mean It!