Repetitive Strain Injuries-Shoe Loves Me, Shoe Loves Me Not!

Shoe Loves Me, Shoe Loves Me Not! Not too long ago I wrote an article that instructed women how they can do certain exercises that will allow them to wear high heel shoes and suffer less while wearing them.  Well there was so much interest in that article that I decided to write a little more about the same subject. For over fifteen years I have been studying the effects of certain shoes as it relates to the health of the feet, especially women’s feet.  It is a tragedy to see so many women sitting on the sidelines when it comes to their footwear just because their feet bother them when wearing something flashy or sexy.  Well the good news is you won’t have to sport those grandma shoes much longer once you start preparing your feet to accommodate those sexy stilettos you’ve been craving. As an analogy I will use a simple example of something I recently discovered.  Every winter I travel to Colorado for a ski trip with some friends.  Without fail I’ve always enjoyed the first full day of skiing and then have to soak in the hot tub for the next couple days so that I can walk.  Well maybe the soreness isn’t that bad but hopefully you get the point.  This last time I went skiing I started doing some leg exercises about six weeks prior to the trip.    I did several different types of lunges and squats and increased the intensity over the six week period.  When it came time for the ski trip I was able enjoy every day out on the slopes with barely any soreness. You can apply the same principles to your feet and leg muscles and joints to prepare you to wear whatever shoe style you fancy.  I guess it does take a little bit of outside the box thinking to realize that strengthening your feet and legs will help you wear sexy shoes.  It’s just one of those things that most have just taken for granted.  I will share with you a couple more exercises that can be done quickly and quietly in the privacy of your home which will certainly give you a better shot at getting to “Shoe Loves Me”. One of the most important muscle groups you need to work on is the calf muscles.  Although there are several muscles in the lower leg there are two major ones that we are going to focus on.  They are the two largest muscles in the back of the calf, the gastrocnemius and soleus.  The gastrocnemius is by far the largest muscle and is the one that you can feel if you squeeze your calf.  The soleus is a very thin and broad muscle that lies deep to the gastrocnemius.  Both of these muscles function to raise your heels off the ground as when you stand on the balls of your feet.  In the last article I talked about two great strengthening exercises that also worked to improve balance.  In this article I will teach you how to properly stretch out these two calf muscles.  You should know that stretching a muscle is just as important as strengthening, if not more important. First let’s talk about how to stretch the gastrocnemius.  This is a common stretch often referred to as the “runner’s stretch”.  You will want to stand facing a wall with one foot in front of the other and both feet pointed forward toward the wall.  Keep the back knee locked straight as you lean forward toward the wall.  You will want to keep the heel of your back foot pressed firmly to the floor as you move your hips and body forward until you feel a prominent stretch in the calf muscle.  Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds.  This stretch done regularly will have a huge impact on improving ankle motion and flexibility, which by the way is very important when wearing high heels. To stretch the soleus muscle you will do everything just like while stretching the gastrocnemius but you will need to keep your back knee bent.  Bending the knee will relax the gastrocnemius muscle allowing you to isolate only the soleus.  Your heel should stay in contact with the floor surface the entire time while doing this stretch.  This stretch may not feel as strong as with the gastrocnemius but it will be a deeper feeling stretch. As you continue with these stretches and the other exercises discussed in my earlier article you will notice increased strength, flexibility and balance in your feet and ankles.  Something to keep in mind when choosing your heel height is that while standing in your stilettos you should be able to comfortably lift your heels at least one inch above the inside surface of your shoe.  If you are unable to do that I would advise you to choose a slightly lower heel until your range of motion increases.  Be persistent and diligent with these exercise recommendations and your feet will soon be saying… YES “Shoe Loves Me”. © Robert J. Fenell, D.C. WANT TO USE THIS IN YOUR EZINE OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you use this blurb with it: For over 14 years Dr. Robert J. Fenell, D.C. has helped relieve thousands of patients from their debilitating hand and foot pain.  He has also helped train hundreds of other chiropractors in the diagnosis and treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and many other hand and foot conditions.  Get your FREE hand and foot kit at: