As the party season kicks off, women across the country are pulling their glitziest dresses out of their wardrobes and dusting off their highest heels.
The trouble with party shoes is they play havoc with posture, not to mention your poor feet.
Pull on your favourite pair and stand sideways in front of a mirror. What do you see? Transferring your body weight onto the balls of your feet means thighs and kneecaps engage, hamstrings shorten, your bottom and chest stick out, and your head bows forward. It exaggerates the curves of the spine and knocks your posture off-kilter. It’s no wonder so many women suffer back or neck pain after an outing in vertiginous footwear, as well as sore toes.
If, like me, you struggle in heels but can’t resist a pretty pair, follow these simple exercises to make sure you can dance all night long. This sequence will also help those with bunions, fallen arches, arthritis in the feet and back or postural issues.
1. THE ULTIMATE FOOT WORKOUT
There are more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons in each foot and they don’t get stretched enough. Be warned, this means when you do focus on the feet it can feel brutal!
Stand with your feet parallel and hip-width apart. Come onto the ball of your right foot and spread the toes as much as you can, so even the baby
toe is on the ground. Transfer your weight into the ball and toe pads of the right foot and press down hard. Stay here for 10 breaths.
Next, point your right foot so the tops of the toes are on the ground. Press down hard for 10 breaths.
Finally, alternate between the two foot positions, rolling the toes back
and forth for a full foot workout. Now repeat everything for the left foot.
2. FORWARD BEND
Place your feet together or keep them parallel and hip-width apart. On an exhale, roll the body forward.
If the hamstrings feel tight or you have back issues, bend your knees ever so slightly.
If your hands reach the ground, hook your big toes with the first two fingers of each hand. Don’t worry if this isn’t possible; enjoy the stretch by holding the back of your legs wherever you can reach.
Relax your neck and lengthen the spine. Now roll back and forth between the balls and heels of your feet until you feel balanced. Stay for several breaths.
This forward bend stretches the entire back plane of the body, from the soles of the feet to the crown of the head, improving foot stability and ironing out any niggles that come from wearing high heels.
3 TREE POSE
Return to a standing position.
Transfer your weight into the right foot and root down through the sole. Bend the left knee and place the foot on the inside of the right leg, wherever it reaches. If this is tricky, rest the left heel on inside of the right heel, keeping toes on the ground.
Focus your gaze on a fixed point on the ground and raise your hands in a wide ‘V’ shape. Soften the shoulders
and jaw; breathe softly and steadily.
Repeat on the other side.
Tree pose improves foot stability, strengthens the ankles and legs, and works core muscles, essential for good posture.
Now go forth and party in your prettiest shoes. And remember repeat these exercises the next day
— your feet will thank you for it.
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