Four exercises to fight the effects of high heels

These four strengthening and stretching exercises can help you wear your heels without ruining your posture

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A pair of high heels can make an ordinary outfit sexy and elegant. But over time, wearing heels too high and too often can pitch your body forward, leading to a permanently unsexy sway-back posture and low back pain.

The good news is that you don’t have to forgo trendy footwear to regain your tall, straight posture and healthy back. Start by switching out your highest heels with lower-heel options on some days, and commute in comfy flats whenever possible. Then add a few specific posture-fixing exercises to your workout routine. Experts agree that you can solve many back ache issues by being active and practising the right strength and flexibility exercises.

Try these four stability-ball exercises designed to help counteract the effects of heels. The routine takes only six minutes to perform, so aim to do it once a day.

1. Strengthen your abs
Sit on a large exercise ball and walk your feet forward until the ball is between your tailbone and your shoulder blades. With your hands behind your head, curl your shoulders and upper back off the ball (keeping your elbows wide), then lower back to the start position. Begin each repetition by pressing your navel toward your spine. Perform repetitions for 30 seconds. Repeat for 30 more seconds, crossing alternate shoulders toward the opposite side of the body.

2. Stretch your calves and hamstrings
Sit on the ball and extend one leg forward. Keeping your leg as straight as possible, reach for your toes and pull them back toward your body. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg. Repeat on both sides again.

3. Strengthen your core and glutes
Lie on your back and place your heels and calves together on top of the ball. Squeeze your abs and glutes, and lift your hips off the ground creating a straight line from your feet to your shoulders. Hold for five seconds and then lower. Begin with about two sets of 10 repetitions.

4. Stretch your front thighs
Kneel on one knee behind the ball placing the other foot slightly in front of the ball. Roll the ball forward a few inches allowing the back leg to straighten a little more, and feel the stretch in the front of your thigh. Let the upper body relax onto the ball. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other leg. Repeat on both sides again.

Barb Gormley is a certified personal trainer and a freelance health and fitness writer. You can contact her at www.barbgormley.com.

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