Health Over Heels – How To Beat The Effects Of Your Favourite Heels On Your Body!

Ladies, I completely agree that it is your very own prerogative to own and wear a gorgeous pair of heels. On that special occasion, that girly night out or just because they’re beautiful! However…it doesn’t have the best effect on your body, including your back, feet and knees. When I perform gait analysis and examine the way my patients walk, run and move, their feet tell me a lot! Let me tell you why…

Ever had that night out and after a few hours your Beyonce-style dancing turns into an achy aerobic class? Ever wake up the next morning walking around like a cave-woman? Blisters? Achy heels? Achy back?

Here’s how your favourite heels affect different parts of your body, and some reasons to make you put your foot down on wearing wisely.

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Starting with your Feet!

Primarily weight-distributing and spring-loaders, they add shock absorbance to your body by cushioning and protecting your body from high and strong pressure. In a pair of your favourite 4-inchers, your body’s wonderfully designed feet are compromised, as you place a great deal of your weight onto the balls of your feet and the tiny, delicate bones. There’s a much bigger and more damaging impact from high heels and they increase 30-40% of pressure onto the front of your foot.

When I examine my patients walk and look at their natural heel-to-toe transition, it becomes interrupted by the pressure and gravity changes going through their feet. So they’re no longer walking with a beautiful natural stride, but instead have an edgy and incoherent shuffle. This can cause so many problems in the foot including damage to the joints and nerves resulting in things such as bunions! Not comfortable and not pain-free!

Top Tip: After a night out, soak your feet in a tub of warm water filled with epsom salts for 15 minutes to increase lymphatic drainage & soothe the aches away or pre-freeze a bottle off water, when you’re home take it out and roll the middle of your foot over the bottle, this will relieve tension through the feet.

Moving onto your Ankles and Calves!

Ever noticed after a night out your feet swell up, your calves ache and sometimes even cramp? Well guess what, by wearing high heels it forces your ankles to stay in an upward, awkward and unnatural position. This not only restricts circulation in your lower extremity causing varicose veins and fluid retention, it also tightens your calf muscles by stiffening your Achilles tendon; which shortens your muscles and causes more cramps. So over time, your favourite pumps end up being the reason you develop chronic tightness and shortened muscles whereby even walking in flats become tender and painful too!

If this seems familiar to you, and you’ve been slipping your shoes off under the desk at work just to have that relieving “ahhh…” moment as you relax and stretch your feet, it’s because your heels are not healthy for you. Be wise with your footwear!

Top Tip: Stretch your calves regularly throughout the day and make circular motions with your foot to enhance overall joint/muscle fluidity and prevent retention. I always recommend dynamic stretches as the best way to maximise flexibility.

Working up towards your Knees!

Designed as a master pro shock absorber, the knee is transitional hinge joint and takes a lot of pressure between the feet/ankle and the hips! However, high heels can really add extra stress on the knees because of the added weight distribution going through the front. So not only can this predispose you to quicker wear and tear, but this essentially can lead to osteoarthritis, joint damage and other conditions.

Top Tip: Be wary of your posture and keep your knees relaxed, not locked.

Transitioning towards the Hips!

So most women want that long, lean, sexy stance, the one mastered by models and traditionally known by Marylyn Munroe! However, not all of those women know the utmost important and role of the hip joint is to stabilize, transition movement and mobility and provide a secure pelvis. High heels have a bad effect on your hips, as to avoid gravity from throwing you forward, you will be used to pushing your hips forward or staying in a flexed position, arching your back and pushing your chest out. This not only increases a lot of tightness through your leg muscles, it creates tension in your outer hip muscles and tendons, resulting in inflammation, chronic tightness and premature inflexibility and joint damage.

Top Tips: Ensure flexibility through your hips & ITB (Ilio-tibial-band), strengthen your glutei & hip rotator muscles with personalised and well-advised squats & lunges, alongside dynamic posterior/anterior leg stretches.

And if this hasn’t made you decide on a new shoe style, let’s move on to the Back!

Getting an achy or sore back after a night out? Well here’s why – for you to be able to glide in your heels, your lumbar spine has to move in an extremely unnatural way as it adds stress and pressure to the joints, discs, muscles and ligaments: overall classified as not good! Your low back usually takes the brunt from your footwear, activities and lifestyle. Especially if you have wear abdominal tone and core strength, so your lumbar spine becomes much more vulnerable to stress and injuries.

Low back pain is a common and huge phenomena, which you can prevent by starting to make simple choices with better footwear. Alongside a better pair of flats and supportive footwear; some simple things that massively help are frequent stretches, remedies to improve circulation and only wearing high heels to events where you’re primarily sitting.

Top Tip: When you get home after a long night out and the morning after; on a firm but comfortable surface (yoga mat/carpet) lay flat on your back, bring both knees up to your chest and gently hold without pulling for 10 seconds. Release and repeat a few more times. This will gently release the stress in your back from remaining in an arched position, relax the muscles and rest the joints.

Remember a key motto, you’re health comes first. Your physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing is nurtured by the small choices you make and the habits you incorporate daily.

If you’d like any further information on the blog or tips provided please don’t hesitate to contact me or comment below, as all of the tips should be personalised, detailed specifically for you and comfortable to do.

Yours in good health! 🙂 xo

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How To Get The Best Sleep…zzz

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I always ask my patients about their sleep; how many hours a night? Do they wake often? Is their bed/pillow comfortable? And most importantly, do they feel well rested when they wake up in the morning?

Sleep is vital in encouraging and maintaining good functioning of your body, muscles and organs. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) at least 40 million people suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60% report having sleep problems a few nights a week (that’s a lot!). Your rest period is so important in ensuring optimal health and wellbeing so please take care of this.

For women especially, simply being female makes us more likely to suffer from insomnia. The main factors contributing being; anxiety & worrying, hormonal fluctuations of our menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause can also affect sleep, which in turn affects the quality of our health and wellbeing. Which is why it’s super important to get your beauty sleep.

So let me help you out with my tried & tested top 10 tips on how to get the most relaxed and sweetest sleep!

1. Are you one of these people? “I’ll just check my Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / email before bed…”

Rule number 1: Step AWAY from the iPhone/i-Pad/laptop. Avoid the use of any electrical devices 1hr before your bedtime (and definitely not in bed). Light is a powerful guide for your body and being exposed to light from the screen will influence chemistry and waking hormonal behavior, as your brain connects it to the sunlight. So this will only keep you wired to stay awake.

2. Try to go to bed at roughly the same time every night, and get up at the same time each morning.

The body produces melatonin, which is important in controlling your body clock so your sleep-wake cycle is regulated. Your body craves routine so by doing this, you’ll maintain a healthy sleep cycle for your body, it’s natural rhythms, the correct hormonal releases and you will definitely feel a difference by getting the same amount of sleep each night.  Try it for a week.

3. Keep your room quiet, dark, cool & uncluttered.

You bedroom is your sanctuary, the space for you to disconnect from the world; and it should be treated and kept that way.

So use dim lighting towards your bedtime, keep the curtains tightly drawn and open the window a smidge to regulate temperature. I recently discovered the magic behind crisp & cool bedding…Egyptian cotton percale sheets, luxuriously soothing.

4. Relaxing scents have been proven to have a calming effect.

I absolutely love Molton Brown’s “Relaxing Yuan Zhi Ambiente Room Spray”. Made with yuan zhi, vanilla and ylang ylang, it’s perfect to not only de-stress but 2 spritzes in your room or from a height above your bed will calmy sooth you into a restful sleep. Alternatively, unless you’re sensitive to scents, a lightly scented lavender spritz or candle as you get ready for bed is perfect to aid a good night’s sleep.

5. Quit the caffeine.

That’s right, that quick mid-afternoon coffee may have helped you get through the rest of your day, but it definitely won’t do you any favors in getting through the night peacefully, especially when your mind is still racing into over-drive at 1am with restless thoughts and to-do lists. So you may want to reconsider? Obviously you will probably already know your own sensitivity to caffeine, but there’s no harm in switching to a herbal or caffeine-free brew from the mid-afternoon (there’s not much difference in the taste, and you’ll be less agitated and more calm!)

6. And the booze (you knew this was coming!)

It’s the TGIF high; time to celebrate with a glass or two of vino, white wine spritzer or a cocktail right? With a standard drink (one unit) it takes at least 2 hrs to metabolize, so keep your eye on the clock because if you body is still focusing on this when you go to bed, it isn’t focusing on sending you to sleep. Plus, if you’re already achy and tired from your long week and work, with alcohol being an inflammatory product, you’re only increasing the amount of inflammation in your body, with less recovery period, which equals a worse state in the morning. Be drink aware!

7. Make sure that your bed & pillow is comfortable.

Many of my patients come in to see me having “slept funny”…We spend a third of our lives in bed, so a new mattress could be a worthwhile investment. People spend thousands on a new car, which on average gives them a good 5 years; but a mattress is something you will be sleeping on for decades, so it needs to be comfortable, firm, supportive and keep your body well balanced throughout the night; so invest in a good one. Flipping and rotating your current one may work, but my absolute favorite and top recommendation to my patients is a firm latex foam mattress (the ones by Dunlapillo are fab!)

8. The snooze button (every 5mins)…

To all those having to wake at the crack of dawn, we’ve all been there! But whilst snoozing in the morning might feel like an indulgence, you’ll actually wake up feeling groggier and more tired. Just treat yourself to setting the alarm 15-20 minutes later instead. It’ll make such a difference in your mood, so you won’t wake up on the wrong side of the bed.

9. Remember that we are all different.

I treat so many girls and women, including work or sport-focused women, new mums, working mums & business-mums. So whilst research shows that 7-8 hours is the average for most people, anything between 6-10 is normal. It’s important to have a routine that best works for you and your body, so it stays functioning at its best! As long as you feel well rested and refreshed the next day, it’s absolutely fine.

10. Lastly, do absolutely nothing!

Worrying only pumps up your adrenals, and defeats the purpose of a restful sleep. So, try not to think about about not sleeping, or focus too much on ways & techniques to get yourself to sleep, or you’ll just stay awake. If you haven’t done already, look through my previous blog post on my top tips to de-stress (https://healthwealthandforeverhappiness.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/magical-top-4-stress-relievers-immediate-soothing-effective/) because the art of practicing mindfulness through self-meditation is very powerful and if you’re struggling, is an effective way to address your thoughts, anxiety and emotions to help you drift into a relaxing sleep…zzz

If you found these tips helpful, please post below. Yours in good health xoxo 🙂

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My Magical Top 4 Stress Relievers – Immediate, Soothing & Effective

Nearly 90% of my patients deal with high levels of stress in their lives, and eventually it stores in their body. One of the main factors I work in a lot of depth with my patients is STRESS! Beginning as a fight-or-flight response, stress manifests in your body in many ways, originating from the adrenals, the stress hormones produced essentially go on over-drive, causing a response in your body that not only disrupts your balance, but when put on re-play, it causes upheaval in all of your internal systems including your muscular-skeletal system!

When the first thing my patient says is: “I’m not sleeping well”, “I feel overwhelmed” or “I don’t know where to begin” alongside the moment I place my hands on an incredibly tight upper back, neck, scalp or diaphragm; I know my patients are in need of support, relaxation and personalized advice– all of which contributes to the ultimate magical treatment.

So here are my top 4 stress-relieving tips: The first 3 provide a basic rule to apply and number 4 is full of wonderful goodness!

1.   The love-hate relationship most people have is with breathing exercises! Nice, slow deep breaths in the morning and throughout the day is an easy stress reliever that not only relaxes you but will allow you to inhale more oxygen so your body including muscles will feel better! So with patience, calmly count to 3 before inhaling through your nose down from your diaphragm and slowly exhaling from your mouth. Try this every morning and evening for a week and you’ll notice a difference.

2.   In an age of zero-patience and noise everywhere it’s difficult to find that alone time to truly zone out of the check-list constantly being edited in your mind and hone in on your mind’s silence. That’s why I go through specific guided meditation sessions with my lovely patients, promoting healthy benefits! But fear not, here’s a good tip to try self-meditation in your life. Trying to think of nothing is easier said than done so a simple basic tip is to sit quietly in a comfortable position, wearing loose clothing and close your eyes. Allow your thoughts to float through your mind, but don’t focus on them, let them pass by not engaging…then…let them go. Remember, magic is created from your thoughts.

3.  Your physical condition is vital to the way stress is produced and manifests in your body. A massive stress-reliever is physical exercise! A simple stroll or jog outside can not only distract you from the check-list of worries, it acts as an outlet and a “pick-me-up” releasing a burst of happy hormones such as endorphins! Psychologists also confirm that taking a walk acts as a form of self-therapy, mimicking some forms of therapy, as it activates both sides of the brain, relaxing and rationalizing thoughts. So indulge yourself in a magical brisk walk in the open air, inhaling deep breaths and exhaling so-long to your stress.

4.  The magical and ultimate combined self-stress-relieving treatment: start by to lighting a calming scented candle or spritz your favourite perfume. Smell trigger memories, so pick your favourite scent! Continue with a good piece of dark chocolate, this has been shown to decrease stress and anxiety. I always recommend Green & Black’s 70% dark chocolate and go onto having a nice warm bath with relaxing music, scented bath oil or epsom salts to increase lymphatic drainage for relaxing tired, tight and achy muscles. Whilst indulging in the bubbles, let your mind drift away from the thoughts crowding your mind. Progressing past this, pop on the kettle and make a nice hot brew of herbal tea, chamomile and lavender is my favourite and follow through by the much researched cuddle therapy! That’s right, snuggle up to a cosy cuddle with your partner, child or even a friend! Not only does this measurably reduce stress, but it sends calming messages throughout your body. Most importantly, switch off all electronic goods (yes that means your phone, ipad or laptop), calm your mind with some gentle deep breathing to prepare your body for an early & good night’s sleep…ZZzzz

And there you have it! My top 4 magical methods and tips to start the de-stressing and creating time to become more mindful of your thoughts, habits, actions and life to lead you towards a calmer you! Try them out and post below to let me know how you got on with them 🙂

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