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Fitness for your feet

The limousines are in the garage, the red carpets are rolled up and your feet are suffering the stiletto sting.

Now that awards season has drawn to a close in Los Angeles, there are a number of glamorous gams in town suffering a painful let-down after dancing ‘til dawn in strappy Jimmy Choos or Christian Louboutins.

Fortunately, says Dr. Timothy Charlton, assistant professor of orthopaedics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, there are a few ways to help your feet…and make them stronger for the next run down the red carpet. In fact, these exercises can help anyone addicted to high heels plus the weekend athlete and those whose feet tire easily.

The first is called eccentric contractions, which stretches and strengthens that all-important Achilles tendon, that long tendon under the foot that connects your calf muscles to your heel bone. “This exercise is doing two things at once, lengthening the muscle while contracting it,” says Charlton, who has worked with dancers from the American Ballet Theater on preventing foot and ankle injuries. “That helps to gently stretch the part of the foot that is most stressed in high heels.”

Rise up on the tips of the toes with both feet while placing your hands on a wall for balance. Once you are all the way up, lower yourself back down with the bad foot only.

The second exercise is toe crunches. Just as stomach crunches strengthen and define the abdominal muscles, toe crunches “help strengthen and define many of the muscles on the bottom of the foot, the ones that support the foot in a high heel shoe,” he says. “I’m a big fan of toe crunches, because they help with so many foot problems, including fallen arches.”

Place a pillowcase on the floor. Put your foot at the end closest to you, then “pull” the pillowcase toward you by curling your toes. Unflex your toes, and repeat. Slowly draw the entire pillow case toward you, using only your toe “crunches.”

If foot pain does not go away, says Charlton, definitely consult a physician. But much of the time, “the proper exercise can help a great deal.”

Fitness for your feet

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