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How To Undo The Damage High Heels Are Causing To Your Body

How To Undo The Damage High Heels Are Causing To Your Body

Does every bone, muscle and joint from your toes to your neck hurt after a long day in heels at work? Love the way your favorite heels look on date night, but hate the way your body feels after having them on all night?

You’re not alone.

High heels have always been famous for the agonizing foot and ankle pain so many women experienced after wearing them. But now we know that heels are not only causing temporary foot pain that a sympathetic significant other can massage away, but instead, long term structural damage.

According to a recent review article wearing high heels is associated with a fundamental changes in the wearer’s posture and gait that the researchers found lead to “mostly negative consequences” long term.

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Over time heels create strength imbalances in the muscles  that surround the ankle joint. This can lean to ankle instability which is associated with changes in gait and posture. Long term these changes are associated with injuries to muscles in the upper leg, hip and even the back.

“One condition known to compound the difficulty of walking is the use of high heeled shoes, which alter the natural position of the foot-ankle complex, and thereby produce a chain reaction of (mostly negative) effects that travels up the lower limb at least as far as the spine.”- Cronin, NJ

While the best defense against the damage high heels causes is to give up heels altogether, that’s probably not a realistic option and probably isn’t necessary at all as long as some preventive measures are taken to counteract the effects of heels on the ankle.

Spend Less Time In Heels

Keep in mind, you don’t have to give them up. But if you can find times in the day to slip them off and wear other shoes or simply go barefoot, even for short periods of time, you’re going to help minimize the negative effects the shoes are having on the mobility of your ankle. For example, in Gretchen Reynolds‘ article she states that: “Dr. Cronin also suggests slipping off heels while sitting at your desk, since wearing the shoes, even when not moving “can alter the resting length of the muscles and tendons around the ankle.”

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So, give your feet a break during the day. If you’re going out to run errands, walking to get lunch and definitely once you’re home, give your feet a much needed break. Get into flatter shoes and out of the heels.

Strengthen Your Ankles

Calf raises and other exercises that strengthen your ankles are recommended to help counteract the effects of the heels. Specifically the researchers recommended heel raises and heel drops. An extra bonus is that your calves will look great too.

Heel raises are performed by simply rising up onto your toes from a flat footed position.

Heel drops are performed by standing on the edge of a stair and slowly lowering your heels as low as you can over the edge.

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Leave the Heels in the Locker Room

Working out in heels has become a recent fad, with the Stiletto workout and Heel Hop, but those probably are not the best options for your foot, ankle and knee health.

Because heels are inherently unstable resulting in changes in posture and movement mechanics working out in them will only lead to greater impact forces across the already compromised muscles and joints and a greater chance for injury. According to Dr. Cronin, the impact forces created are: “… concentrated over a small region of the foot in high heels, creating regions of very high pressure,” leading to foot pain. Moreover, due to balance and biomechanics being compromised, running in heels is also “a very inefficient way to move.”

So lace up your cross trainers and leave the heels in the locker.

Go With Shorter,Thicker, Heels If Possible

Wearing heels for 40+ hours a week is already putting a lot of strain on the ankles and feet. Styles with taller and or thinner heels add to that strain. Taller heels lead to greater ankle inversion and thinner heels are more unstable. If you’re going to wear heels religiously, simply opting for shorter and/or thicker heels may help mitigate some of these negative effects.

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While a shorter and/or thicker heel won’t help strengthen your ankle or improve your ankle mobility and are still damaging, shorter, thicker heels may lead to less severe changes in gait and posture. Therefore they would be less damaging to the structures of the lower body.

While they might not be the best choice for foot health and are probably keeping your podiatrist in business, heels aren’t going away any time soon. Despite all of the pain that they’ve caused women over the years, no one is giving up their “cute shoes”. The good news is, if you can make some of these simple changes to your routine, you can alleviate and maybe undo some of the damage that wearing heels has done to your body.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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