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Breaking the Habit of Wearing Heels. Is it Safe?

If you’ve been wearing high heels for a long time, then it will take some time to release the tight and very shortened calf muscles in order to wear flatter shoes more comfortably and safely. If you can barely stretch your calves while performing the calf stretch (below), then wait before transitioning to a flat.

In the meantime, find the lowest heel that you can wear comfortably and determine this as your new high heel. As you move to a lower heel, use this time to retrain your foot muscles and elongate your calf muscles. Your feet may feel tired and achy at first because you are building up muscle strength that was lost while wearing compromising footwear.

If you feel that you must wear heels in order to appear professional, then consider the following:

  • Keep a pair of flatter shoes at your desk

  • Take a 3-5 min break for foot stretches (below)

  • Keep a set of toe spacers at your desk (Can use the foam spacers used for pedicures)

Stretches for Transitioning out of High Heels

Calf Stretches

Using Rolled Towel

  • Feet pointed straight

  • Hips vertical over back ankle

  • Heel on the ground

  • Arch and ball of foot on towel

Using Stairs

  • Hips vertical over back ankle

  • Ball of foot on leading edge of stair

  • Drop heels

Using Wall

  • Sit on rolled towel or cushion, keeping knees and thighs relaxed and straight.

  • Press heels into wall

  • Reach hands to the wall, folding at the level of the hips

  • Take relaxing breaths, and don’t bounce

Toe Stretches

Using hand

  • Lace left fingers between right toes and vice versa

Using Toe Spacers

  • Place spacers between toes

  • Build up to wearing them for longer periods of time

Active Stretch

  • Spread toes/relax/repeat

For the Foot

Using tennis ball

  • Stand (or sit for less pressure) with feet side by side

  • Keep heel on ground and press forefoot onto tennis ball

  • Move ball to different parts of the sole, applying continuous pressure. Hold each location 20-30 seconds.

Much of this information was shared from “Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief” by Katy Bowman, MS

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