Monday, August 24, 2015

Fashion The Secret to Pain-Free Party Heels (and 10 Pairs To Make It All Worth It)

The higher the heels, the closer to God, or so the saying goes, but for most of us, strapping on a pair of six-inch stilettos feels closest to Old Testament–style vengeance than anything. “Foot problems know no boundaries, age, gender, anything,” says Yamuna Zake, the soign√©, silver-haired, and internationally famous healer best known for her body rolling techniques and foot yoga, “but high heels don’t help.” And during this, the most party-centric time of the year, avoiding your heels can feel like a punishment all its own. (God knows we love a flat, but sometimes a girl just needs a lift.)
Party Heels
And when it comes to making strides? According to Zake, American women are especially inept. “When I go to Moscow, the girls all wear insanely high heels, but you know what? They look great: no problems walking at all. American girls need help. I’ll sit at dinner and see these girls all hobbling by and all I can think is ‘Do you know how unsexy you look?” Thankfully, it all comes down to training. “Training your feet to have function!” Zake exclaims, as she cavorts on a pair of semi-circular contraptions covered with raised bumps called Foot Wakers in the uptown yoga studio where she teaches when in New York City. (This is not often: she hosts a trio of retreats in Tulum, India, and Tuscany as well as a bevy of residences in locales as varied as Ibiza, Moscow, and Tokyo.)

Happily, taking care of your feet does not mean resigning yourself to a life of chunky plastic and sensible molded footbeds. “The thing about feet is that unless you have a foot fetish, they’re not that sexy or interesting unless they’re in a really beautiful shoe. I wear whatever shoes I want to wear whenever I want to wear them,” says the newly 60-year-old Zake, all lean, taut figure and perfect posture. “It’s not the shoes that are bad for you—it’s how you’re walking in the shoes that is bad for you.” According to Zake, the more you build up the outer part of your foot, the more your arch will lift, the stronger your foot will be, and the longer you can stay out dancing. And after you’ve slipped out of your stilettos at the end of the night, a series of rolling exercises (with one of her products, available at both Pure Yoga East and West in New York City, as well as on her website, or a tennis ball) for five minutes before bed will cure what ails you. “It’s about creating balance with your foot and leg, so it doesn’t get stuck. Shoes cut off your circulation, your feet are locked up, the muscles never stretch, the bones start to calcify,” Zake says. “Don’t tie off your feet from the rest of your musculature: Work everything out together.”
Party Heels
Her signature workout relies on balancing your weight on different parts of the foot—the outside edge, the base of the toes, the heel and ball—and slowly shifting the pressure along the muscles and tendons while you balance. Add those Foot Wakers, and it feels like reflexology. Swollen ankles? Stretch your foot on a tennis ball and the circulation will ease all that pressure. (Reader: You can even do this at your desk.) Other pro tips? Always stand with your feet parallel and your weight equally distributed. If you have to stand for a long time, shift your weight to the outside edge of your feet. Ensure that your shoes have ample toe room. When wearing heels, shift your weight to the outside edge rather than your big toe. And your mother was right: Posture improves everything, Zake emphasizes, “it just starts to float the body up. And that’s the way that women should look: graceful and beautiful—up! Instead they’re down here, fumbling.”

You heard her: Fumble no more. Here, ten pairs to work out for—and up to!—this holiday party season.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Walk in high heels for a good cause in downtown Dowagiac

high heels
You might see a group of men running down the streets of downtown Dowagiac this weekend, all for a good cause.

It's the 3rd Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser on Saturday, July 18 in downtown Dowagiac. The walk is about raising awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault, or sexism in general.

"Just the fact that they're willing to be out of their comfort zone, to accept people saying things to them that might not be so pleasant and just to know that I'm going to have a little pain, maybe a few blisters, maybe some bleeding toes as I walk a mile in high heels," said Kim Kramer, Executive Director of Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services.

Anyone is welcome to walk at the event. High heels and flip-flops for men will be provided in common sizes.

Registration for the walk starts at 9 a.m. and the walk kicks off at 10 a.m. Registration is free. The event will be in downtown Dowagiac at Beckwith Park on the corner of Beeson and Front Streets. There will also be food, children's games and a lot of fun.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Are high heels bad for your feet?

What damage are high heels doing to your feet? Photograph: Getty Images/Untitled X-Ray
I have one pair of high heels, and they hurt. The pain is mostly in my feet because they are forced into an unnaturally extended position with my toes bunched upwards and heel sticking up. My lower back isn’t too happy either. But who cares? I’ve joined the 78% of women who wear them almost daily, despite them causing pain, on average, after one hour and six minutes. High heels are perceived to be worth the pain because they make legs look taller, feet smaller and the body thinner. But research published this month from South Korea in the International Journal of Clinical Practice suggests that high heels may actually alter the muscle balance around the ankle joint, leading to instability and balance problems. The Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery has reported that the number of high heel related injuries in America doubled from 7,097 in 2002 to 14,140 in 2012.

Most of these injuries were foot and ankle sprains in women between the ages of 20 and 30 in the evening: alcohol and high heels are not a good mix. High heels push the centre of gravity forwards and upwards so you have to constantly change your posture to keep your balance.

Professor Neil Cronin of the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, author of a review of the long-term effects of high heels, warns that they increase the changes in length that a muscle goes through when you walk. Usually that change is small. But wear high heels and it is larger, and the strain goes more through the tendon joining the muscle to the bone, as it usually does. The Achilles tendon at the heel can shorten and get stiff. Cronin says women who wear heels for years develop such chronically short muscles and tendons that when they try to wear flat shoes again their calves hurt. Studies have also suggested high heels increase the risk of arthritis, but it’s difficult to prove. So should you stick to flats?

The solution

It’s hardly news that you can fall over in high heels but the evidence of ankle instability suggests some care is needed. Cronin advises thicker heels (wedges anyone?) as they help balance, and keeping heels to 4cm or below. Wearing soft insoles can reduce pressure on your knees. You should alternate with flats (Cronin advises limiting high heels to two to three days a week) take them off if you sit at work and do stretching exercises for your feet and calves (for example, pick up a pencil from the floor with your toes). Or not walk in them at all.