Open up almost any woman’s closet and you will find at least one pair of killer heels. Sure these leg-lengthening shoes make you feel and look sexy—but they’re also wreaking havoc on your body. You can thank your pumps for . . .
Wearing high heels on a daily basis can actually shorten your Achilles tendon, impacting your gait. It also overloads the calf muscle, causing it to work harder and increasing risk of injury. This kind of strain is particularly troubling if you run since the calf muscle and Achilles are susceptible to strain from overuse.
A bunion is a lump located on the joint of your big toe. While heels do not necessarily cause bunions, they can exacerbate the condition.
The constant forward push created by high heels causes misalignment with your spine and hips. Combine this with slouching at your desk all day, and you are headed straight to Back Pain City.
RELATED: Say goodbye to slouching—and back pain—with this quick perfect posture workout.
The taller your heel, the more pressure placed on the ball of your foot, which can cause hammertoes and blisters. Extra heel height also puts you at a greater risk of falling.
All of that said, chances are you’re still not going to give up your fashionable shoes, so I've compiled my top five tips to fight the negative consequences of tippy-toeing all day long and strengthen your ankles and legs to protect your body from further damage.
1. Gimme a T: Stand on a pillow with your right foot. Extend both arms out to the sides at shoulder height. Lean forward from your hips while simultaneously extending your left leg backward. (Your body should form a “T.”) Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeating on the other side.
2. Buy at night: Make shoe purchases in the evening when your feet are at their largest to avoid ending up wearing pinching, too-tight shoes (because I know you’ll still wear them despite the discomfort—they just look too amazing, right?).
3. Don’t be afraid of fat: A thicker-heeled shoe creates greater stability and balance and reduces the amount of stress placed on the ball of your foot.
4. Mix it up: Alternate wearing heels, flats, boots, and sneakers, rotating daily. Constant change makes your body have to adapt continually, helping to prevent overuse or strain of a muscle.
RELATED: If you just can’t say no to sky-high stilettos, try these better-for-you options ranging from peep-toes to boots.
5. Step up your game: Hang your heel off of the bottom step of a staircase to lengthen your muscles, improve circulation, increase blood flow, and alleviate stress on your Achilles. Gradually move up the stairs and fully extend one leg straight out in front of you, resting it on a step at hip height to open your hamstrings. (This helps reduce back pain, create balance within your hips, and open your gait.) Stand tall and extend your arms in front of your body. Point your fingers ahead and continuously reach them forward as if you were diving in to ease stress in the upper back.