Treat High Heel Hangovers With These Tips And Stretches

Which hangover would you treat first, alcohol-induced one or the high-heel hangover? Both are equally painful!!!! We will let alcohol be for the moment though.

Adding style to the feet

Adding style to the feet

Been there, done that! That glorious time we all had the previous night, strutting around in those gorgeous high-heeled shoes was unbeatable!!! But, the ‘morning after’….. felt like our legs had been boxed and beaten! And just like ‘no-more-alcohol-for-me’ , ‘no-more-high-heels’  thoughts crept into our fogged minds, only to be washed out of memory by the end of the day.

But there is good news. Just like you don’t have to give up alcohol completely (sic), you don’t have to abandon your towering high heels either. Australian podiatrist Philip Vasyli says that rationing high-heel wearing moments can help preserve the health of your feet. In his words, “The human body was not intended to walk in high heels, so the most logical thing is to either not wear them or, better, to save them for special occasions or the weekend”.

One hour, six minutes and 48 seconds to be exact, is how long it takes for feet in high-heeled shoes to start aching, according to a recent survey by a College of Podiatry. Some very delicate darlings start wincing after just 10 minutes of wearing high heels. Some others who are oblivious to the pain while they dance and hop,  spend the whole of next morning nursing their aching feet. But we still don’t give up, do we ? Didn’t someone famous say, “if there is a problem, there has to be a solution too” ?

The answer to this problem (is it really a problem for women?) lies in being careful about the shoes you wear, how you walk (yes, yes, FORM again!!!), strengthening your leg muscles to handle high-heel wearing more efficiently and lastly treating those poor sore muscles.

You can get away with wearing tight inner wear(not really!!), tight jeans and tight blouses, but you can’t cheat your feet into tight or ill-fitting footwear. Yes, yes, those red pumps are to die for!! And the price is even better!!! But they are just a centimeter small and you still want to buy them! That one centimeter will convert itself into several inches smaller after a few minutes of wearing the footwear. Forget them, you will find better ones soon.

These are the number of muscles that we put to work when we wear high heels. Shouldn’t we keep them in order ? They have to last us a lifetime.

Anatomy of the lower leg

Anatomy of the lower leg

How your shoes fit you depends on what time of the day you buy them.

Peoples’ feet are normally smaller in the wee hours of the day and progressively get larger by the end of the day. Fluid flowing downwards into the feet through out the day will obviously swell the feet a little and hence, that is the best time to buy new footwear, if you want to avoid shoes that pinch and bruise.

How you walk with your heels is important:

Walking form is always the same, at home, at work, at parties or fitness walks. Heel first, roll then to the ball of the feet and finish with the toes. Of course, with high heels, the roll of the feet cannot be so precise, but it helps to start the tap with the heel first rather than placing the feet flat on the ground.

Check out this video from Wendy’s Lookbook

Why do we wear high heels at all?

We got to be kidding if we said “just to look taller!” We have heard time and again that long legs are sexy and why not ? They add a certain style and attitude to our personality. While we appear to have never-ending legs with wearing heels, the story happening in the inside of our legs is that the shin muscles are forced to lengthen while the calf muscles get shortened. The Achilles tendon (attaching calf to the ankle), with repeated wearing of high heels, gets shortened and inflamed. Beginning of problems!

But this blog is not about abandoning high heels ; it is about managing high heels and its accompanying woes. So here are a few things you could do to alleviate the pains.

Strengthen / condition your leg muscles before wearing high heels:

  • Stretch your calf muscles before and after wearing high heels.
  • Stand with your feet together, hands stretched out to either sides. Bend forward from your waist and as you do so, lift your leg back straight, keeping it parallel to the floor (it’s called doing a T). Hold for 10-30 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
  • Stand with feet together. Extend one leg behind you as far as you can get it, both feet firmly on the ground. Straighten the back leg, hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
  • Wall-Calf-StretchSit in the child’s pose, relaxed, with your feet tucked underneath or on the balls of your feet. Lean forward and stretch out your arms, with head in line with the spine.
  • Do a few lunges to stretch out the hips. They can get cramped when you wear heels.

Repeat these stretches soon after you get back from your event or after a little while. If it’s a night out, the next morning probably.

How many of you have worn high heels through a long evening, danced in them and ripped off your shoes in the car? And walked out from the car to your door bare feet? I have and I know balls of the feet can be killing. Here is what we could do to better manage the pain.

  • Ice Remedy : An exhausted body after a long day needs a hot bath, but feet that have become sore with high heels need a cold pack to bring down the swelling caused by long hours of wearing high heels. Place your feet in a cold tub for 15 minutes and then apply a good foot moisturizer before you crash.

Now let’s be practical. We know high heels are bad for us; that they put a lot of strain on our ankles, calves, knees and lower back. But not much in the world is going to stop us, high-heels lovers from wearing them. So, let’s get our leg muscles used to high heels.

  • Lets alternate between mid to low heels on most of the days and after that big fashionable day of those sky-scraper heels, lets take a heel holiday.
  • Wear flats, take a pedicure and stretch out those muscles.
  • Shall we stick to 1.5 or 2 inch and a quarter high heels, with wedge or cat heels for those practice days? Because that is what most podiatrists and orthopaedicians recommend for better health of our feet. Three inches is allowed occasionally, but any higher than that, we stand to risk. Higher the heel, more stylized the walk, I agree, but at the cost of our gait and the backs of our legs.
  • Thin silicone or foam pads placed inside the shoes for the balls of the feet absorb the impact and can give some relief.

Another set of exercises to calm your screaming leg muscles:

Down Dog Calf Stretch. Image source : POPSUGAR Studios

Down Dog Calf Stretch.Image source : POPSUGAR Studios

  • The downward-facing dog position is ideal for soothing the high heel hangover, since it gets the blood flowing back to normal in the legs. Stand with your feet slightly apart, bend forward till you are able to place your hands firmly on the ground. Raise your bottom towards the ceiling and hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds. Bend your right knee, shifting weight to the left leg. Hold for 10-15 seconds and then switch sides. Repeat a few times.
  • Stand with your feet slightly apart. Bend forward slowly and touch your toes. Straighten out your knees and keep the stretch for 10-30 seconds. Repeat a few times.
  • Sit down on the floor with legs stretched in front of you. Lift one leg off the ground, flex the toes and stretch them alternatively.
  • Circle with your feet starting from the ankles (not the whole leg) clock-wise and anti clock-wise, 10 times each. This will help your ankle muscles.
  • Let only your heels hang from the edge of a step of a staircase, while you support yourself holding the wall or the balustrade. Hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds, repeat a few times.
  • Now, place your feet firmly on the step of the staircase. Extend one leg in front of you on the higher step to reach your hip height. Extend your arms in front of the body, without rounding your lower back. This soothes the leg and back muscles.

Useful Tips :

Mix it up and show off your shoe collection. One day heels, next day flats, wedges on the following day, boots next and so on. This way, your feet learn to adapt to changes and will be better geared to handle high heel woes.

According to the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, we should limit high heels to two and a quarter inches and wear them for no more than two to three hours each day. And this holds good for people all over. The Achilles tendon is under continuous stress if high heels are worn for prolonged periods and can cause a world of leg and back issues over time.

Don’t grow long toe-nails if you are a high heel addict wearing closed shoes.

Soak your feet in warm water with Epsom salts. Warm water opens up skin pores letting the minerals of Epsom salt dilate the body blood vessels, offering respite to aching feet.

Higher the heel, pointier the stilettoes, stronger the high heel hangover!

Click here for proper Walking Form.

I would love to get your feedback. I look forward to more tips from you all, it will help.