Does anyone else feel inadequate watching "Dancing with the Stars" professionals and celebrities doing the quickstep, tango, and paso doble in high heels? I haven’t been able to walk in heels for years, since surgery for a neuroma on the ball of one foot. But if women can dance backwards in them, might I chance them for the sake of sexy or professional presentation of my assets?
Beverly Solomon, creative director for the style company Musee-Solomon, says yes. She was a model and then an account executive in sales and marketing for Diane von Furstenberg, Revlon, and Ralph Lauren. Her husband, artist Pablo Solomon, was a founding teacher at the Houston Contemporary Dance Theater. Here is their consensus:
-The more fit you are, the more safely you can wear heels.
-Having a dance background improves your chances of wearing heels safely because you have stronger legs and feet as well as good posture.
-Heels are to a woman in the workplace what a suit and tie are to men. They project a professional image, so heels are more than a fashion accessory; they are a power tool.
Dancers know they need to pay attention to the 26 bones in each foot, 33 joints,107 ligaments, 19 muscles, and numerous tendons, nerves, and blood vessels that need to be strengthened, stretched, flexed, and oxygenated. Here are some exercises to practice even if you aren’t tripping lightly across the dance floor.
-Toe Raise, Toe Point, Toe Curl: Hold each position for five seconds and repeat ten times.
-Toe Squeeze: Place small corks or toe guards between toes and squeeze for five seconds. Repeat 10 times. The same effect can be accomplished by wearing “yoga toes” (www.yogatoes.com) around the house; these are a more flexible version of the device that separates toes during a pedicure.
-Ball Rolling: Roll a golf ball under the ball of your foot for two minutes.
-Yamuna Foot Balancing (www.yamunabodyrolling.com): Yamuna has two kits for building foot strength and treating foot ailments: The Foot Saver and Foot Waker, both of which are variations of plastic half spheres that spread foot bones as you balance on them.
-Pebble Pick-Up: Pick up one pebble at a timeand put it in a wide, shallow pan; then take them out again, one by one.
-Towel Pick-Up: Pick up washcloths, socks, underwear, and small towels that are on the floor by bunching them toward you with your toes and transferring them to your hand.
-Sand Walking: Preferably on a beach, sand massages and exfoliates feet while strengthening toes.
-Grass Walking: No benefit other than feeling the earth.
Don’t forget to massage your feet, stretch your calves, warm-up your muscles before wearing heels as if you were going to dance, and consider buying shoes a half size larger to accommodate various inserts to support your foot or relieve pressure in tender areas.
Judy Kirkwood is working her way up the high heel ladder inch by inch.