High heels tend to overwork the muscles in the leg and knee, and can be the cause of some nasty ankle problems. Wearing these stylish shoes daily shortens the Achilles tendon and calf muscles. Without the proper support, the ankles cannot stabilize when stressed by the unnatural weight balance of the elevated heel. Doing basic exercises to build up strength in the ankles will help counteract some of the issues caused when you wear heels.
Start with a Stretch
Start each day by stretching out the lower leg and feet. This helps to alleviate tendon problems in the ankle and calf. For a quick stretch prior to putting on your shoes, place your hands on a wall for support. Slide one leg back and then bend the knee to stretch out the gastrocnemius muscle. Hold that position for five seconds before straightening the leg. Hold it straight to continue the stretch for an additional five second. Do this exercise three times on each leg.
Range of Motion
Improving the range of motion of the ankle will help make the joint more flexible when walking in heels. Sit on a bench or chair with your back straight. Cross one ankle over the opposite knee so the foot hangs free. Draw the entire alphabet with your big toe. Once you complete all 26 letters, switch legs and do it again.
Ankles lifts strengthen the tendons that help support the joint. Stand next to a wall or chair for balance. Rise up on both feet until standing on your toes. Hold the lift for three to five seconds and then lower your heels. Continue this exercise until the muscles in the ankle and calf become fatigued.
Tapping your toes helps build support in the front and back of the joint. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and knees close together. Lift the toes off the floor slowly as high as possible before returning them to the floor to tap. Do this exercise for up to one minute. You can tap one foot at a time or both at once.
The ankle flexion exercise works to build strength in the connective tissue around the joint. Stand with your hands on a chair, wall or table for balance. Lift one foot up off the floor. At the same time, shift your weight forward to stand on your toes on the down foot. Hold the position for six seconds and then return to start. Repeat the exercise ten times on each foot.
While standing at the table or in front of the wall, keep both feet flat on the floor. Slowly shift your weight forward until your heels lift up. Hold the position for three seconds and then shift back until the toes lift off the floor. The key to this exercise is slow, deliberate movement. Repeat the exercise at least 10 times to strengthen the ankle and calf muscles.
Inversion and Eversion
Sit on the floor with your back pressed against the wall and legs stretched out in front. Turn one foot in toward the center of your body and hold it there for six sections. Once complete, push the foot outward and hold it for another six seconds. This will build up the connective tissue on the side of the ankle. Repeat the exercise 10 times for each foot.
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