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The Best Stretches for Foot Health

woman stretching before run to avoid foot pain

March 8, 2019 | Categories:

We know: You love the way you look in heels. But the rest of your body may be paying the price. April is Foot Health Awareness month, so in honor of the occasion, we asked podiatrist Ami Sheth for tips on how to wear heels without wrecking your feet.

Tips for Healthy, Pain-Free Feet

  • Choose comfort: Wedges are generally the best option since they minimize the height difference between the ball of your foot and the heel. If that’s not a possibility, look for pumps with a wider heel base rather than a stiletto. They are generally more stable and distribute your body weight better. Look for a rubber or cork sole over a wooden or hard heel, which can help provide more cushioning and shock absorption. Padding in the front of the shoe also helps take pressure off this part of your feet.
  • Take a seat: Standing for a long time in any shoe adds stress to your joints and even increases your risk of varicose veins since the blood tends to pool and isn’t sent back to the heart as efficiently. If you know you’ll be standing for a long time, wear compression socks. Pain should be your guide. If your feet start to hurt, sit down!
  • Mind your posture: Wearing heels changes the alignment of your body, tipping your pelvis, which can then affect your spine. Focus on walking with your shoulders back and with a straightened spine.
  • Stretch those calves: Wearing heels tends to shorten the Achilles’ tendon. Take a couple of minutes to stretch the area: Stand facing a wall about an arm’s length away. Put the ball of one foot on the wall with the heel still on the floor. Your knee will be slightly bent. Try to straighten your leg out. You should feel a stretch in the calf. Hold for 15 seconds then switch legs.

Try These 3 Stretches for Healthy Feet

One is a calf/hamstring stretch. In a seated position, take a belt and loop around the ball of one of your feet. Then extend both feet at the knees. Gently pull on the strap. (envision that you are seated with both legs out and have the strap around one foot. Hold each side to a count of 5 and do each side 5 times.

Another stretch is a standard runners’ stretch. Feet hip distance apart. One foot in front of the other. Front knee bent, back leg straight and both feet pointing forward. Lean forward meeting the wall with straight arms. Back straight, bottom tucked in. Lean forward. You should feel a stretch on the back calf.

Calf stretch: Stand facing the wall about 3/4 arms length away. Put the ball of one foot on the wall with the heel still on the floor. Your knee will be bent. Try to straighten your leg out. You should feel a stretch in the calf.

 

This article originally appeared in a 2014 issue  of Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine.

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