Do High-Heel Workouts Give Women a Leg Up?
The Wall Street Journal
Dr. Scholl’s has started making thin, foldable ballet flats that women can keep in their purses There’s a reason why: Wearing, and especially dancing, in heels hurts. Yet, for some reason, women are consciously choosing to not only walk around in heels, but to actually EXERCISE in them.
Workouts that require high heels are springing up around the country, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Crunch Fitness chain of gyms offers a class called “Stiletto Strength”. Vegas Stiletto Fitness runs a similarly themed workout in Denver, Las Vegas, St. Louis, and throughout Texas. And then there is “Heel Hop”, a Beverly Hills-based class started by Kamilah Barrett, a 34-year-old choreographer and dancer who has worked with R. Kelly, 50 Cent, and appeared on Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.” Barrett says she developed the class to strengthen the muscles that support a “relaxed” stance and fluid movement in high heels. “Heels are really a sport," she said. "If you're spending so much money on these heels, why not know how to work them?”
Here’s a peek at what the class entails:
Naturally, Heel Hop attracts a lot of aspiring Beyonces. Singer-songwriter Kim Kline says she owns several beautiful pairs of heels that she’s too afraid to wear. By learning to shift her weight onto the balls of her feet in Heel Hop, Kline says, she’s become more stable.
“You realize the weak points of the body and how fragile the ankles are, and you're strengthening that," she said. "I really did notice it immediately.”
But this increased stability may be come at a price. “This is not just going to negatively affect the foot, but it’s also going to wreck your weight-bearing joints, says Suzanne Levine, a board certified podiatric surgeon with a private practice in New York City. Besides the obvious risk of twisting an ankle, wearing heels shifts a tremendous amount of pressure onto the ball of the foot and shortens muscles and tendons in the back of the leg which can accelerate stress fractures, irritate bunions, and cause anything from bursitis to Achilles tendonitis to plantar fasciitis. Working out in heels also forces you to exaggerate the “c” curve of your spine in order to keep your shoulders back, says Levine. This increases the pressure on back and hip muscles.
“It’s almost absurd,” says Levine. “I can see someone who wants to learn how to walk in heels and does it for five minutes. But [working out in heels] wrecks not just your feet, but the rest of your body.”
If you want to feel more grounded while sporting stilettos, Levine recommends strengthening foot and ankle muscles by doing the following simple exercises three or four times a week:
- Write the letters of the alphabet in the air using your feet
- Pick up marbles or a towel
For four more moves that develop stronger feet and ankles, click here.
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