How to increase ankle range of motion for high heels?

kaleida

Member
Aug 4, 2012
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Has anyone had any luck increasing your ankle's plantarflexion range of motion - for high heels that are just a little too high? I'm open to any kind of suggestions .... Stretches? Massage? Chiropractor adjustments? Lol. I keep falling in love with 120mm heels but I feel like that height is just barely out of my ankle's plantarflexion range of motion.

By plantarflexion range of motion I mean how far you can point your foot before you hit a limit:



And by "heels just barely too high" I mean the heel height where your knees start to bend a little more than they should when your weight shifts to your front foot. Front foot goes out, heel strikes first, ankle plantar-flexes to put the toe down, but it can't plantarflex quite enough, so the knee has to bend a little bit as the weight shifts forward. I see myself doing that knee bending in 120mm heels but not 100mm heels and I really want to get rid of it if I can.
 
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kaleida

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Aug 4, 2012
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I hate to be a Debbie Downer but I feel there are just some things that shouldn't be sacrificed for high heels.
Things like muscle, tendon, ligament and skeletal health. JMO :smile:
But ... but ... but ... but ... :cool:
I was picturing something more like...increasing my range of motion by fixing potential problems, like muscles that are too tight, or muscles that haven't been trained to work in a full range of motion, or bones not perfectly aligned because the surrounding muscles were too tight (maybe a chiropractor can help me more with all this but sometimes I get good tips asking other people too).

I think a healthy muscle is one that can stretch a lot, and a healthy joint can move in its full range of motion without pain. I think it is healthy to try to increase range of motion as long as the increase comes from fixing things, and as long as I'm trying to go up to my genetically possible range of motion instead of going past it. I don't think it's realistic for me to aim for ballerina ankles (like plantarflexion past the line of my shin) ...but I think it should be possible for me to get the top of my foot in the same line with my shin, which I can't do at the moment for some reason even though I could a few months ago. Bone structure will probably make my "genetically possible range of motion" smaller than some people, and that's fine too.
 
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all7s

Member
Apr 5, 2014
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Have you looked into yoga? They have have plenty of exercises that involve heel and toe raises, ankle strength, and overall posture.

I couldnt say if they would help with what you want to do with wearing heels, but if you are looking for foot health and better balance, yoga has made a difference for me.
 

rcy

Member
Dec 30, 2011
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171
i'm married to a chiropractor so am adjusted regularly, and also practice pilates. i wouldn't say that either has affected my ability to walk in heels (regarding flexion/extension of the ankle).
 

sharon100

Member
Oct 19, 2011
260
93
Has anyone had any luck increasing your ankle's plantarflexion range of motion - for high heels that are just a little too high? I'm open to any kind of suggestions .... Stretches? Massage? Chiropractor adjustments? Lol. I keep falling in love with 120mm heels but I feel like that height is just barely out of my ankle's plantarflexion range of motion.

By plantarflexion range of motion I mean how far you can point your foot before you hit a limit:



And by "heels just barely too high" I mean the heel height where your knees start to bend a little more than they should when your weight shifts to your front foot. Front foot goes out, heel strikes first, ankle plantar-flexes to put the toe down, but it can't plantarflex quite enough, so the knee has to bend a little bit as the weight shifts forward. I see myself doing that knee bending in 120mm heels but not 100mm heels and I really want to get rid of it if I can.
 

sharon100

Member
Oct 19, 2011
260
93
Hi Kaleida I know what your talking about and many years ago I was totally addicted to wearing 120mm and even 130 mm stilettos with out platforms very regular.

Years back I did ballet and remember doing floor Pointe to increase my range of ankle motion and one thing that can work easy is ...... when relaxed sit on the floor and place your feet under somthing heavy like a sette fofa etc and use the weight to push your feet into a floor pointe position,do this each night for as long as you can and then move your feet up down etc .

You can follow some ballet stretching on line too that is similar but use of stretching devices like a Ballet Pro .

But when you do get accustomed to 120mm heels don't forget to stretch down , only word of warning because Achilles shorten and get tight .

I'm unable to walk flat footed and only comfortable in at least a 4 inch heel now and that was caused from forsing my feet to be past vertical so to wear very high heels so please be careful.
 

kaleida

Member
Aug 4, 2012
697
73
Thanks everyone :smile: I appreciate the tips and the feedback :smile:

And here's a picture in case anyone is curious what size difference I am aiming for :smile:

this pic is max plantarflexion on both sides and you can see I have slightly better range of motion in my right ankle. I want the left to match. Getting them both in a straight line would be nice too (the top of foot + shin line)... but if not, then just making them match should be enough to help me walk without extra knee bending in the 120s as long as I take small steps. If I get a true straight line on both sides then I could take slightly larger steps without extra knee bending and that would be nice too. :smile:
 

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Marniem

O.G.
Jun 26, 2006
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It looks like you are pretty close to your goal.
Do you normally wear a high heel for work and daily activities? If not just wearing a 100mm heel on a daily base will help prepare your foot for the additional height.
I used to do ballet just for recreation and I think that definitely helps too.
Also if you get a 130mm pair of cheap heels and just wear them around the house that will give your feet the extra stretch they will need to master the 120mm for daily wear as well.
 

Marniem

O.G.
Jun 26, 2006
362
20
It looks like you are pretty close to your goal.
Do you normally wear a high heel for work and daily activities? If not just wearing a 100mm heel on a daily base will help prepare your foot for the additional height.
I used to do ballet just for recreation and I think that definitely helps too.
Also if you get a 100mm pair of cheap heels and just wear them around the house that will give your feet the extra stretch they will need to master the 100mm for daily wear as well.
Sorry I meant 130 mm for at home
 

kaleida

Member
Aug 4, 2012
697
73
It looks like you are pretty close to your goal.
Do you normally wear a high heel for work and daily activities? If not just wearing a 100mm heel on a daily base will help prepare your foot for the additional height.
I used to do ballet just for recreation and I think that definitely helps too.
Also if you get a 130mm pair of cheap heels and just wear them around the house that will give your feet the extra stretch they will need to master the 120mm for daily wear as well.
Thank you; I will try that :smile:
 

kaleida

Member
Aug 4, 2012
697
73
So I asked for suggestions from a bunch of different places and got one massage suggestion that I tried last night and it seemed to help :smile:

I smashed some lower leg muscles with a spiky massage ball, focusing on two muscles that do dorsiflexion and oppose plantarflexion (pernoneus tertius and tibialis anterior) but I also did my other peroneal muscles higher up too.

I think I got a tiny bit of improvement in my left foot. Which I'm showing as a before/after gif because otherwise the difference is too subtle to see it.

1hf2pb.gif

It's such a tiny difference. and I only see a difference in my left foot (the one that was worse to begin with).

But this tiny difference was enough to improve my practice walk :smile: I definitely have less knee bending in the 120's as long as I take small steps.

Practice walk before (with what I think is too much knee bending, especially in my left foot):

Practice walk after (knee bending reduced):

(those are different shoes but same heel height and heel position so I run into the same challenges when I try to walk in both of them)

Walking without holding on to the countertop is another problem entirely lol - I haven't gotten there yet
 
Mar 14, 2006
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the lowcountry
Let me start by saying I think this is a ridiculous thing to be working for.

That said, if you want an exercise actual dancers do: Get a thera-band, or several of different resistances. Sit on the floor, leg straight outstretched in front of you, wrap the thera-band around the ball of your foot. Point and flex and point and flex and point and flex. You can do it sitting on the couch while watching tv too. Concentrate especially on pushing through your toes.

Also, after watching your videos, I feel like the knee bending you don't like could be improved by improving your posture instead of the range of motion of your ankles and arches. You're walking dumped into your lumbar spine. Your shoulders are behind your hips, your pelvis is ahead of your chest.
 
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kaleida

Member
Aug 4, 2012
697
73
Any progress made?
I did make a little bit of progress in my ankle range of motion by smashing all my lower leg muscles with a foam roller...front, back, & sides; that also helped me get rid of some pain in the back of my ankle when I wear them. And I feel like both feet can "lock forward" when I stand on my toes.

I think the rest of it will come if I can figure out how to move my hips and torso when I walk in them. It seems like, if my hips could move a little bit more, then my knees wouldn't need to bend much at all. I have either non-existent hip movement with a little too much knee bending... or exaggerated and goofy-looking hip movement with good straight knees. :biggrin: I am definitely open to ideas about how to practice moving my hips/spine/torso when I walk in them! For now just practicing. Practicing with music on seems to help convince me to try moving more than just my legs. That feels very goofy. But hopefully it will feel natural sooner or later!
 
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