High heels do more than sacrifice comfort for style—the sky-high shoes have been linked to overworked and injured leg muscles, osteoarthritis of the knee, lower back pain, ankle injuries and weakness in the legs. According to the Sports Injury Clinic, high heels shorten the Achilles tendon and calf muscles and put strain on the legs.
Practicing leg stretching and strengthening exercises may help alleviate pain and prevent damage associated with wearing high heels. However, if your back, leg, knee or ankle pain increases despite your stretching and exercise routine, take off your high heels and see your doctor.
Stretch the muscles of the lower leg and feet to help alleviate achilles tendon and lower leg pain and problems. Stretching also helps to lengthen the muscles and prevent or undo the damage that heels can do.
To stretch the two muscles of the calves, lean up against the wall with one foot behind the other and keep your back leg straight to stretch the gastrocnemius muscle of the calf. Bending your back leg during the stretch will stretch the soleus muscle of the calf.
Strength Exercises for Lower Legs
Perform strength-training exercises for the lower legs and feet, such as calf raises, toe raises and foot exercises can strengthen the muscles and tendons of the foot, calves and shins to prevent injury and help existing pain heal.
To perform calf raises to work the calves, simply stand on a stair or an elevated surface with toes on the stair and your heels hanging off the back. Raise up on your toes as high as you can, hold at the top for a second and then return to the starting position.
To perform toe raises, stand on a stair with your heels on the stair and your toes hanging off. Hold a wall or surface to keep your balance and simply lift your toes up as high as you can, then return to the starting position. This exercise works the anterior tibialis muscle on the front of the legs.
Strength Exercises for Upper Legs and Back
Because high heels are linked to pain in your back and knees, strength-training and stretching your upper legs and back helps, too. Deadlifts are a compound exercise that work the hamstrings and lower back muscles.
To perform deadlifts, place a barbell or dumbbells just in front of your feet and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your legs straight, bend at the waist, reaching down to grab the weights. Straighten your torso fully, then return to the starting position to complete one repetition.