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Don't let your stilettos kill you

By Brinda Sapat
Last updated on: January 29, 2015 12:01 IST
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Fitness expert Brinda Sapat recommends exercises that will support you when you wear your stilettos and offer pain relief for your tired feet.

Photograph: Bogdan Cristel/Reuters

High heels are hot! They are irresistible and make your legs look like a million bucks. But there is a price to pay… aching feet, twisted ankles and sore calves. Regular, daily wear also causes long term havoc like a bad back and painful knees.

High heels basically make the wearer stand on her toes constantly. This shifts the body weight and skeletal system into imbalance. The pain and discomfort you feel is the signal from your body that this is trouble!

Having said that, we cannot give up our heels!


High heel wearers require core strengthening and stabilising exercises like planks, ab crunches on the ball and oblique crunches.

Strengthening this mid section of your body will help take the load off your spine, knees and ankles.

Challenge the foot and ankle balance by doing some of your regular exercises on one leg; a bicep curl or a dead lift for example, done on one leg.


Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh/

Hold your body up in the Push Up position for 30-60 seconds. Maintain a straight line from shoulder to hip to feet.

Get into reverse position (face up plank) and hold for 30-60 seconds.

Next do a side plank on your right side holding for 30 seconds and then switch sides.

Repeat all.

Ab crunches

Lie with your back on the ball and feet on the floor. Place your hands behind your head with the elbows out to the side. Tighten your abs and lift your upper body till your shoulder blades leave the ball; slowly lower your body but don't arch all the way back on the ball. Lift up for the next rep.

Don't pull your elbows forward.

Do 2 sets 12-16 reps.

Oblique crunches

Stay lying on the ball in the same start position. As you raise your upper body, twist to bring your right shoulder towards the left knee. Lower down. Lift up again this time twisting your left shoulder to the right knee.

Do 2 sets of 16 reps alternating sides.


Give your feet enough walk time in a pair of good walking shoes and go for regular walks, 30 minutes a day.

Walking in high heels, make the front of the foot contact the floor first and then the heel; while when you walk normally the heel contacts it first. Let your feet have this normal walk time daily.

Stretching for relief

Hold each stretch for a minimum of 15 seconds.

Standing back stretch

Stand with your feet hip distance apart and round your back by pulling your tummy in and pushing your arms out forwards.

Standing hamstring stretch

With your feet together in standing position, bend down reaching towards your feet. Grab hold of any part of your leg and hold. Feel the stretch in the back of the thighs, hip and lower back.

Standing quads stretch

Pull up your right heel to your right hip and hold on to it with your hand. This stretches out the front of your thigh.

Seated calf stretch

This stretch will only be felt properly while wearing your training shoes.

Sit on the floor with both legs extended out in front of you. Place your right heel on your left foot and pull the toes in with your right foot. Feel the stretch on the left calf and ankle. Relax and change legs.

Seated oblique stretch

Sit up nice and tall. Your spine should be erect. Keep your left leg extended on the floor. Take your right leg over the left. Bend your knee and pull it close into your body. Place your left elbow on the right knee and your right hand behind and close to your body. Twist your torso and look over your right shoulder. Hold the stretch, relax and repeat on the other side.

Foot massage

Give your tired feet a good rub by massaging them using your thumbs and making deep small circles starting with your toes, down to the base of your toes, ball of the foot, the arch moving all the way down to your heel. Massage the top of your foot too.

Alternatively, place your foot on a tennis ball and move the foot back and forth applying more pressure where it’s aching.

Then dip your feet in a warm or cool foot bath, depending on which feels better to you.

Extra tips:

  • Avoid high heels when you are going to stand for long hours
  • Carry a spare pair of low heel shoes to work to slip in to when your feet get tired
  • Kick off your shoes under the table
  • Pick high heel shoes that have some cushioning or are of the comfort variety
  • Give your feet enough time in flat, well cushioned, soft shoes
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Brinda Sapat