6 exercises to try after wearing heels all night

Party season is officially here. While it can be fun to dig out our festive clothes, putting our best fashion foot forward with a pair of high heels can often bring pain and discomfort.

“Heels (in excess at Christmastime) tip the hips forwards, the hamstrings shorten and the lower back loads,” explains Pilates teacher, Nathalie Clough. “The back can then get locked in this position if you don’t move it in the opposite direction to balance things out. Combine that with copious amounts of alcohol and lack of water and you have yourself the recipe for a dodgy lower back.

“As for your feet, they are sore from the forward pressure put on them by the weight of the body. Redistributing this weight and supporting the body with strength and soothing exercises can help.”

Here, Nathalie shares some simple exercises you can try to soothe any pain you may be feeling as a result of wearing high heels.

6 exercises to relieve pain from wearing high heels


Single leg stretch:

“Strengthening the abs using this move helps build core strength and stability,” says Nathalie. “We need to work our core/centre when wearing heels for that added lift. This helps to put less pressure on our feet.”

To do this exercise:

  • Lay on your back, ensuring your lower back is rooting down into the ground.
  • Bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Bring your heels towards your bottom.
  • Hug both knees into your chest.
  • Engage your core as you lift your shoulders away from the mat, drawing your nose towards your knees.
  • Gently extend one leg into a stretch, making sure your lower back stays connected to the ground.
  • Hold for 1-3 breaths, before releasing and repeating on the opposite side.

Shoulder bridge:

Nathalie says: “For a little relief in the lower back I adore this exercise to help move the spine and gently so. Perfect for a night after one in heels.”

To do this exercise:

  • Lay on your back and bend your knees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Have your heels close to your bottom, with your fit hip-width apart.
  • Place your arms down by your sides, palms pressing into the floor.
  • Engage your core as your gently begin to push down through your feet, lifting your hips towards the sky.
  • Only lift your hips as far as feels comfortable for your back. Hold here for 1-5 breaths.
  • Slowly roll your back down onto the floor, relaxing.
  • Repeat 1-3 times.

Half roll back:

“This gentle exercise helps with moving the lower back,” says Nathalie. “It works well if you want to work through the stiffness of the lumbar spine.”

To do this exercise:

  • Sit on your bottom with your knees bent. Have your feet flat on the floor, about a foot away from your hips. Sit up tall and engage your core.
  • Lift your arms so that your hands come in line with your shoulders.
  • Gently lower your upper body backwards, until you’re about halfway between sitting upright and the floor.
  • From this position, gently move back and forth a couple of inches, using your core muscles.
  • Repeat this motion 5-10 times, and gradually build up as you get stronger.


As Nathalie explains, using a tennis ball is great for helping to release the tension we hold in our feet.

“It is often so hard to relieve feet, particularly as the fascia that runs under never gets any love,” she says.

She shared this video, which you can try at home using a tennis ball or a golf ball (the latter which can be more painful):

Nathalie explains: “The first exercise aims to spread out the toes with the pressure of the tennis ball. Opening the ball of the foot up and reducing the loaded pressure that occurs in cramped feet.

“[The] second exercise is to massage the foot and the facia (read below) throughout the foot. This gets tight when loaded so this will help release the tension through the foot. Finding the points that hurt to release the tension.

“The third exercise is to work the glutes and take a note of the position of the foot trying to realign it and feel more even.”

Nathalie’s pilates platform, LifeBody.Io, currently has a 10-day free trial, and is full of videos to help with lower back, hip issues and strengthening the body.

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