Between tough exercise sessions, hours spent sitting hunched over our desks, heavy purses pulling on one shoulder, and all of the stress we hold in our bodies, most of us are not stretching nearly enough.
The ideal solution? Stopping in at Stretch*d in New York City, where trained professionals will stretch your body for you while you relax. The pros at Stretch*d have worked with college and professional athletes for years, and their approach addresses body imbalances and mobility issues for better posture, movement, and injury prevention.
And while the focus is on assisted stretching, they also send people home with personalized stretches that will help keep them loose in between visits.
Since not everyone can get there, we teamed up with Stretch*d to share some of their smart stretches that you can work on at home, all by yourself. In this series, we’ll be tackling different areas of the body that are commonly tight.
First up: Your precious feet! Maybe it’s that time of year and you’ve been slipping into heels for a full week to hit a holiday party each night. Maybe you’re in fashion and it’s Fashion Week. Or maybe your job just always requires you to wear shoes that make your feet hurt on the reg.
Whatever the reason your heels and toes are aching, follow this Stretch*d prescription for serious relief. (Also, a friendly reminder that sneakers are super fashionable now…even with skirts!)
4 Stretch*d Stretches for High Heels
Wearing heels everyday can create tremendous stress on the calf, ankle and foot. In order to counteract the stress put on these muscles and joints, it’s helpful to lengthen the muscles and promote circulation to avoid injury. With the Stretch*d Method, we use active isolated stretches. This means, we do 10 reps of each stretch and hold each stretch for 2-3 seconds max. It’s movement-based and hence, more active, dynamic, and ultimately safer and more effective.
Smooth Walk*r 1 (Gastrocnemius/Upper Calf Stretch)
The low leg is your first point of contact when walking, so there is a high amount of stress in the calf. Stretching these muscles can help avoid things like shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Pavement pounding in heels can definitely take a toll. Here’s a quick and easy way to loosen up those muscles: Sit with one leg straight and the other leg bent at about a 90-degree angle by the knee. From your heel, flex your foot back towards your ankle, aiming your toes toward your knee. Reach your hands around the foot for a gentle assist at the end of the movement. Remember to keep the upper body still. To relieve pressure from the back, you may want to relax your non-exercising leg by bending the knee and putting the sole of that foot flat on the surface on which you are sitting.
Smooth Walk*r 2 (Soleus/Low Mid-Calf Stretch)
Sit with one leg straight and the other leg bent at about a 90-degree angle with the foot by the knee. Keep the heel of the bent leg on the ground while you reach around for the sole of the foot with both hands. Flex the toes and foot upwards towards the chest. If you’re not able to reach the foot, use a towel or strap as assistance. Hold the stretch for 2-3 seconds for a set of 10. Repeat as needed.
Smooth Walk*r 3 (Achilles/Low-Calf/Attachment to Heel)
For this one, you are in a similar position as Smooth Walk*r 2, but you slide the heel closer towards your seat. Keep the other leg straight and the bent knee as close into your seat as possible throughout. Grasp the bottom of the exercising foot with both hands. Raise the foot up, keeping the heel on the surface. A gentle assist with the hands may be used with this movement.
Ankle Angl*r (Anterior Tibialis/Front of the Lower Leg)
Lying on your back, lift one leg up in the air. Keep the other leg straight on the ground or bent to relieve low back stress. Use a stretching strap (or towel if you don’t have a strap) and loop it around the foot in the air, with the arms on the inside of the leg. Point the foot in the air and turn it in. Use the strap for a gentle assist at the end of your stretch. Turn the ankle back out. You can also get a deeper stretch if you draw the leg across your midline slightly. Repeat 10x.