When Kobe Bryant retired, it truly hurt. I have been a fair-weather Laker fan since I was old enough to walk, and I still remember the exact moment in my head when I found out the Laker’s were getting Kobe Bryant (I was shooting hoops in my best friend Brian Watson’s backyard on a gloomy afternoon).
We were all expecting his retirement, in fact a lot of people were surprised Kobe’s goodbye didn’t happen last year after his injury.
We all knew it was inevitable, yet it still very painful for us Laker fans.
Wearing high heels and dress shoes is similar to Kobe’s retirement.
We all know we are going to get hurt wearing them, but when it actually happens it’s like a dagger in the chest (or foot/ankle/knee/hip for that matter).
Before we dive into the best stretches for instant relief from these shoes, let’s get into the anatomy of what’s happening to your body during their use.
A Quick Anatomy Lesson
Whenever our heel is elevated more than normal (even if it’s still supported), our gastrocnemius shortens in length.
With dress shoes and especially high heels, your heel is elevated and thus your gastrocnemius is stuck contracted. An abnormal amount of tightness at the gastrocnemius will cause pain and/or injury at the joints above (the knee) and below (the ankle) if not treated.
The next piece of anatomy we are going to look at is the anterior chain AKA the front part of your body.
When you are wearing high heels and dress shoes, your body is angled forward. The muscles used to hold you up are all the muscles in the front of your body.
So what’s wrong with this?
Most dysfunctions in the human body arise from humans already being so anterior dominant. This leads to weak glutes, hamstrings, obliques, back musculature, very tight quads, anterior tibialis (muscle in front of the shin), and as a result poor static (not moving) and dynamic (moving) postures.
The last part of the anatomy we are going to look at is the foot. What’s happening to the foot, specifically from the midfoot to the toes, with these shoe types?
The toes are being smashed together as well as all the bones/muscles in the front of the foot. This has become so pronounced in some people that there toes are overlapping and mashed together!
As a result the deep musculature of the foot become very weak/inhibited, and the dynamics of horrible foot positioning lead up the chain to the ankle, knee, hip, and even low back. Not good!
So what are the best stretches for instant relief?
In no particular order:
- Downward Dog Calf Stretch
- Standing Toe Grab with T-Spine Rotation
- Ball Pick Ups
- Toes Spreads
- Spiderman with T-Spine Rotation Iso Hold
- Foam Roll & Tiger Tail on Calf
- Split Stance Foot Stretch
- Calf Stretch + Ankle Mobs Against Wall