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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 September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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