Wearing high heels can make your calves tight. If you don't take care of the muscles afterward, you'll risk further discomfort and injury.
When you walk around in flats, you spend a healthy amount of time in plantar flexion (with toes pointing down), neutral, and dorsiflexion (with toes pointing up), all of which affect the foot, ankle, and leg muscles.
But heels keep your calves in plantar flexion, says Colleen Conlon, group fitness instructor at Equinox locations in New York City. “They get stuck in a shortened state, which makes them feel tight and sore once you take the heels off,” she explains.
To counter the effect, roll the muscles and perform the standing calf stretch as soon as you can after stepping out of the shoes. For each technique, Conlon recommends 3 to 4 rounds of 30 seconds per leg.
On the day of and during the 24 hours after wearing heels, skip workouts that transfer load onto your forefoot, like jumping rope, barre, and plyometrics. Those movements will only perpetuate the tightness and up your risk of lower-leg injury.
The bottom line:
The more you wear high heels, the worse the effects will be—but flats are not the fix. The ideal shoe has a wide heel between one and two inches tall, which helps evenly distribute the force your feet absorb every day, says Rock Positano, DPM, a practicing podiatrist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
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