Making the leap from heels to trainers


Making the leap from heels at work to trainers for workouts can be a painful experience! Many of my female clients have complained of this over the years.

Why does this happen to women who regularly wear heels and how can they improve their lower leg health?

The reasons are simple:

  • Wearing heels for prolonged periods allows the calf muscles to sit in a shortened position
  • Women wear heels at work up to 8-12 hours/day – 5 days/week in this shortened position compared with only 1 or more hours in flat trainers working out per week
  • When switching to flat shoes or trainers the calf muscles are then put into a lengthened and stretched position
  • Heels can also be restrictive to the front and middle of the feet which can have a knock on effect to the backs of the legs – this is because everything is connected from the toes, underneath the feet and running up the backs of the legs

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Solutions & tips:

  • Alternate your shoes at work
    • One day wear high heels, the next mid-size heels, the next flats
  • If the style conscious you can stomach it, wear trainers to work and then change into heels on arrival
  • Ease into exercise starting with shorter bouts of ten minutes, working your way up each week by several minutes
  • Perform an easy non-impact warm up (3-6 minutes) before the more intense portion of your workout especially if you are going into a class of some sort (walk on the treadmill flat, cross trainer or bike)
  • Take 5 minutes at the end of your workout to stretch your calf muscles
    • Stand on a bottom step with both feet, drop one heel off the step, keeping ball of this foot on the step – repeat other leg
    • If you have healthy knees – kneel down slowly into a full squat and hold the position keeping heels on the ground
    • 3 times each leg for 30-60 seconds each

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  • When starting exercise keep moves non-impact and grounded (so, no leaping around!) – if you want to try jogging then start with a mix of 2 minutes walking, 1 minute light jogging (keep alternating for ten minutes, working your way up each week)
  • Keep exercises on flat ground – no hills for a few months until calves become lengthened more as walking hills puts the backs of the lower legs on a stretch
  • At home wear your trainers, slippers or bare feet to balance your time against being in your heels at work

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Charlene Hutsebaut

Charlene Hutsebaut is a Canadian Personal Trainer and corporate wellness speaker working in London. Charlene wants to help you become the hero in your own healthy story! She was a Life Fitness - Top 10 Global Finalist in the Personal Trainers to Watch Competition 2015. Charlene was the only UK woman to make it and 1 of only 3 women in the top ten. She brings her passion for the outdoors to the core of her workouts. She aims to make wellness achievable for everyone, with or without a gym membership. Her love of fitness started early, at age 3, on her first pair of ice skates. Since then, she has completed degrees in Physical Education and Education as well as studying Athletic Therapy. She is a Stott Pilates instructor and has Functional Sports Nutrition Academy Levels 1 & 2. She has logged an impressive 15,000 PT hours in her 24 years of experience. Charlene’s training is a cutting edge fusion of pilates foundations, mind-body connection and traditional weight training. Charlene trains at the St. Pancras Hotel Spa, or outdoors, in Mother Nature’s gymnasium. When she isn’t training or making fitness videos, Charlene runs corporate workshops, and is the featured expert in Psychologies Life Labs and Monarch Airlines in-flight magazines.

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