You endure the pain of intense training for months on end. You endure the pain of hunger in the pit of your belly at night. You endure the pain of the mental and emotional struggle leading up to you contest…..and then, there is the uniquely painful experience of introducing competition heels to your daily posing practice. Not only is this already uncomfortable, but you have to work those heels effortlessly like you’ve never taken the damn things off in your entire life, all while you are presentation your perfect physique on stage and smile pretty. Little does the audience know that your calf is cramping and you can no longer feel your poor, pinched pinky toe. If you are like me, you wear sneakers and flip flops 95% of your life, and sliding into heels is considered a special occasion. Here are a few tips that I have to make the Clear Heels more bearable.
1. HEAT ‘EM UP
The very first thing that I do when I take my new pair of heels out of the box, is conform them to my foot. Take a blow dryer and turn the heat setting to warn (NOT HOT) and blow over the plastic for about 10-20 seconds. This will warm the plastic to make it more pliable. Slide your foot in, and sit down to let the plastic cool and harden around the natural shape of your foot. After a few minutes, you can walk around in them a bit. I do not recommend walking around immediately after you warm them too much, as this can overstretch the plastic. You can always go back later and repeat the process, but you can’t undo stretched plastic. Never use very high heat as this can melt the plastic or burn your foot.
2. BREAK THOSE SUCKERS IN
The more you wear your shoes, the more they will adjust to your movement and weight distribution. Wear the shows around your house, or put them on daily to practice in until the plastic softens a bit. I recommend keeping them by the door, and as soon as you get home, wear them around for a bit. Wash dishes, vacuum, etc. while you wear them. I’m sure your significant other won’t mind….then again, your roommates or kids may have a few questions.
3. STUFFING AND PADDING
I am not talking about your bra, after what dieting has done to your remaining breasts. There are several options for doctoring up your shows to make them feel customize your comfort. You can buy gel or cushioned liners for the inside length of the entire shoe, or just for the ball of the foot (where you will feel most of your impact. You can buy metatarsal cushion pads that fit to the bottom of your foot, if natural padding has worn away over time. In addition, some people need arch support pads to slip into their shoes. There are also padded stickers that you can place on spots of the shoes or straps that rub your skin and could potentially cause blisters. As for the bottom of your shoe, you can buy textured grip stickers to keep you from sliding on slick or hardwood surfaces, or lightly sand them with sandpaper. You can find all of these are a Walmart or Target, in the same section where bandages or footwear accessories can be found.
4. TRY THIS TRICK:
Alleviate pressure by taping (or using a bandaid) your 3rd and 4th toes together!
5. PAMPER YOUR TOOTSIES
Part of the discomfort can be prevented before or alleviated after the duration of your shoe session. Of you tend to have sweaty feet that slide in your shoe, try rubbing foot powder all over your foot, or even rubbing deodorant on your feet before you slide your heels on. Or, try soaking them in a a cool green tea foot bath for 15 minutes before you wear your heels. You can also take a mild pain reliever or anti-inflammatory (like turmeric or arnica) before long periods of standing or walking to help with discomfort and swelling. Afterwards, treat your feet to a peppermint essential oil foot soak or lotion, arnica gel, or even a magnesium oil spray all over your feet, ankles, and calves.
6. CREATE STABILITY
Believe it or not, a majority of your foot issues can come from muscular weaknesses and imbalances, incorrect joint positioning, or improper mobility and stability. My recommendation would be to see a physical therapist to pinpoint the direct issue (Check out ClinicalAthlete.com to find a sports performance oriented expert near you!) as there can be a hidden greater cause. If you don’t believe that you have any sort of structural or muscular imbalance, just about anyone can benefits from these exercises and stretches to help your lower half adjust to wearing high heels more often.
-Do your “ABC’s” with your toe to loosen your ankles
-Tree Pose (Yoga) Balance on one foot for 30 seconds with good posture
-Bodyweight Standing Calf Raises with 3 foot positions (Neutral, internally “toes in”, then externally “toes out” rotated)
-Tibialis Toe Raise (Bring toe toward shin for repeated reps)
-Seated Stretch (Toes under, then Toes pointed)
-Banded stretch (Lie on your back with both legs straight. Raise one leg toward the ceiling, and loop an exercise band around the middle of your foot, then pull band and toe toward the ground.)
-Band Inversion/Eversion (Sit with your leg extended out in front of you. Loop a resistance band around the middle of your foot, and the other end to an attachment at your side. Take your toes in the opposite direction. If your band is anchored to the right, you will the left, and vise versa.
Now, where do you buy your shoes and what style do you get?
NPC and IFBB organization competitions recommend clear heels with minimal color. A little silver is fine, but don’t go crazy with colors or rhinestones across the foot on the sole/heel. An optional ankle strap is okay, but would preferably be clear. Heel height should be 4-5” tall, with a toe platform no higher than 1”. Any shorter can make your walk and stances look less than stellar, and any taller can be a distraction from or distort your physique from the judges’ view. You can find clear heels online at amazon.com, or you can find them at many adult stores. There is also a brand that has molded insoles to help with ball of foot comfort and arch support called The Highest Heel!
Regardless of what style you choose, just be sure to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE in them as often as you can, and wear them until you’ve mastered the art of walking in high heels (or at least faking it for stage time.)