Introduction | Heels & Hamstrings | Ankles Shins & Calves | Knee & Hip Joints | High Heel Healing
high heel foot pain relief - better posture when wearing high heels


Foot Function for

Spinal Support and Pain Relief


How to flow the toes, ease the insteps & expand the soles

for posture, getting grounded and comfort in footwear


Understanding alignment for heel stability, ankle mobility

& arch support in exercise, walking and well-being.

High Heel Healing

high heel foot pain - high heel knee pain - exercises for wearing high heels

Backbone and Wingspan®

New York City & The World

Herald : 212 - 647 - 8878


Women who wear high heels, whether it be for an hour, an evening or all day, may experience foot pain or pain in the knees, lower back, hips or even in the neck. The heels of the shoes tend to push a woman forward into the front of the foot. There are tendons located there which - although they are meant for mobility - tense and tighten up in an effort to brace the body weight. What is needed for these frontal tendons to release is to access the full lengthening and tone of the hamstrings muscles located in the backside of the upper leg. The hamstrings are powerful when toned up to the sits bone points at the bottom of the pelvis. This also forges skeletal stability on either side of the spine which grants pain relief and great posture.



"She took a high heel recovery course that trains women to walk in heels...


founder and director of Backbone and Wingspan, a New York studio, started the class that incorporates Pilates-based exercises."


- Health


In the video above, Herald teaches High Heel Recovery principles to Pilates Guru Gail Giovanniello in her NYC studio Mind Your Body Fitness. Gail states: “Herald’s work has completely changed the way I walk, sit, stand and teach.” Gail learns how to use the back of her high heeled shoe to take tension out of the front of her foot: tight tendons in front of the ankle joint, the instep and toes.


This release of tightness in the front of the foot then allows her to create a leverage with the heel so the line of support travels up the back of her leg, connecting to strength of hamstrings and stability of hips. Back-of-the-leg support is key in toning of muscles in saddlebag area of hips as well.

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high heel function for feet in high heels - better ankle stability wearing high heels

Heralding High Healing

Hi. I’m Herald, creator of the High Heel Recovery Clinic and author of the upcoming book about how to function in pumps, High Heel Healing: Self-Help for Shoe Whores.


For women to experience a release of foot pain from wearing high heels there are certainly foot exercises to either strengthen the tiny muscles of the feet or to create space between the tiny joints that lead from the ankle out to the toes. But the main thing that will relieve the discomforts of high heeled footwear is learning how the heel of the foot works in relation to the frontal foot tendons and the ankle joint.


Information on all pages of this Foot Function website will assist high heel shoe lovers, as will the page Heels Knees & Hips on my website Back Strength and Spine Support.


There are exercises I’ve devised using the heel of the foot within the heel of the shoe to teach you things you can do quickly before an evening out in heels. You can also perform them in sitting positions on a train or a bus or plane while en route to work. These are in addition to exercises on the stability ball using bare heels of the feet - ones which you would perform lying on your back on a mat as part of a home fitness routine.

high heel discomfort - foot problem relief - stability ball exercises for foot pain - hammertoes

“There's no denying that shoes are a coveted fashion
item for women. They are also the one thing that they wear
that can cause some serious discomfort.

But whether it's an injury or a more serious foot problem, there
are effective ways that women can enjoy pain free pumps.”

- CBS New York’s Kristine Johnson reports          


Click Below To View Television News Segment:           
The High Heel Intervention           

Herald works with a client at Mind Your Body Fitness NYC
using High Heel Recovery principles. He shows the steps
women can take to wear any high heels they choose and still
be able to experience less foot pain and less bodily discomfort.

“Are high heels getting you down?
Have foot pain?
Sign up for a high heel recovery clinic
at which women do heel-on-ball exercises
designed to strengthen hamstrings and core.”


- by Catherine Saint Louis
in The New York Times Fashion & Style


Click Here to Read This Mention Online

"And so when somebody can expand into
the shoe, rather than letting the heel shove
forward and up, then they can get relief,
because then they can connect to the back of the leg
instead of being pushed to the front of the foot."


- by Andrea Silenzi in Culture

"...founder of Backbone and Wingspan,
a New York studio, started the class that incorporates
Pilates-based exercises.
Women often treat their feet like blocks to stuff into shoes
and push all their weight into the front of the feet, he said.
'Draw the heel back and get in touch with the hamstring,'
he advised.”


- by Madison Park in Health


Click Here to Read This Article Online

"Thankfully Backbone and Wingspan's...
High Heel Workout, a private, one-on-one
Pilates program designed to restore your posture.
The stretches, done with the Cadillac and a fitness ball,
are equal parts full body massage and toning session."


- by Ingrid Skjong
Gotham Magazine


Click Here to Read Article Online

     "Have your feet ever killed you after
         wearing a pair of heels?...
We had a chance to have our very own High Heel Recovery Clinic, and
I swear to you, no joke, I haven't felt that relaxed since the first time

I smoked a doobie.


I have worn heels a couple of times since our private class, and have
consciously noticed less pain in my footsies, while using his advice."


- by Ashley Brady      
The Luxury Spot      


Click Here to Read This Mention Online


“This clinic has really helped my posture, and I am now able to carry myself in heels and look confidant and great doing it! I would highly recommend this clinic to any woman who wants to be able to buy great heels and actually be able to walk in them.”


Click to read this entire high heel pain relief testimonial   -   Megan Forlines   -   Age 20   -   NYC Fashion Student



Bridge Over Troubled Posture




This Suspension Bridge Exercise became the signature move during the time I presented High Heel Recovery Clinics in my studio from 2009 - 2011. I developed the exercise so that it could be practiced with or without a stability ball, and can also be adapted into a sequence of other stretches and exercises.


This unique pelvic bridge exercise differs strongly from typical bridging exercises because it focuses on creating a “tethering” of the hamstrings muscles on to the sits bones to suspend the pelvis off the table or floor. Most bridge movements call for a tucking of the pelvis and scooping out of the abs. If the hip flexors are being overworked from the pelvis tucking, the hamstrings will not be able to find a full length up to the sits bones which is how the strength for the legs and stability for the pelvis are established. This stability is as important as the core.


The tethering force of hamstrings back to the stability of the sits bones - which are the bottom points of the pelvis - is what initiates the connection of leg to pelvis - which is in two halves. These two hamstrings forces make it possible for the legs to feel as if they start above the butt. Then the lumbar spine is not isolated above a block of pelvis, but able to extend downwards through two stabilized pelvic halves. The lumbar extends through the sacrum and out the tail. Then you can stand with both stability in the pelvic joints and deep lumbar core stability.


You perform the exercise lying down so that you do not have the challenge of supporting the body weight upright, but you can translate the experience of strength up the back of the leg you receive while lying down into upright standing which will improve posture in high heels.


                              Click to enlarge or print this document


Tone to the Bone


Getting the hamstrings-to-sits-bones-to-hips connection is the first step in being able to tone the upper-outer leg and hip area, more commonly known as saddlebags. The toning of the saddlebag area of the hip is about learning to access the relationship between the heel and the top of the hamstrings so the three hamstrings on each leg can be used fully - initially for stability of the pelvic bone and then stabilization of the hip joint and each pelvic half.


Once stability is acquired, the hamstrings muscle group can be spread out to the edge of the sits bones granting access to the outermost part of the hamstrings muscles or lateral hamstring. When the lateral hamstrings are activated, then the hard-to-tone muscles around the hip structure tone in a way that the hips become integrated into the entire leg line. You get toning of the saddlebag area of hip while making the leg line look longer as well.


Easy on the Knees


It’s important both for protection of the knee joints as well as being able to get to the tone of the backs of the legs and the saddlebag area that you learn not to push into the backs of the knees when exercising, not to mention when standing upright.


In my early years teaching on the Pilates reformer, I had a trouble figuring out how to help people who were prone to hyperextension - or locking - of the knees.


It’s not enough to tell someone not to push back when extending the legs - the key is in expanding the heels back instead of pushing back. It’s a challenge to employ - even mentally for some people that it’s not about straightening the knee joint, but lengthening the leg above and below the knee.


Heel-to-Hamstring-to-Hip Help


Here are two videos which partially address knee function in relation to the use of the feet:


Pilates Reformer Focus on the Feet - How the Springs, Soles & Heels Relate to the Spine and Sacrum


Using Spring Support of the Pilates Reformer to Understand How the Feet Support the Legs and Spine


Also, when the lumbar spine is extended out the tail in a subtle arcing motion, this helps with not pushing the knees back. The proper action of the knees which will protect the entire structure for optimal knee joint health is not easy, and really almost impossible to explain in mere written word. As this site and the accompanying blog site and video channel are added to, the knees will be better addressed with photographic and visual aides. Please subscribe.


There will be more exercises and stretches using a stability ball in the future which will help heal knee pain, hip pain and lower back pain.

Backbone and Wingspan - exercises toning muscles using the skeletal structure


No Squeezing Please



A lot of exercise programs promote squeezing the butt and hips to try to tone these difficult-to-get-to areas. My experience from years of teaching hundreds of women is that squeezing creates muscle tightness and muscle tension rather than muscle tone. Learn to focus on underlying skeletal relationships and navigate the body through the bones, and you integrate the legs into the hips, and the body achieves long and lean muscle tone.




High Heel Pain Relief in the News


Every few months, there is an article printed or posted describing how high heels can be detrimental to health and wellness,

whether it be through basic foot pain or from potential injurious effects to feet

that have long-term or even surgical consequences.


You'll see links to an assortment of articles, not only from fashion magazines, but from The New York Times,

Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and even Forbes.


There truly are people from all "walks of life" who suffer from foot pain and seek relief!


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Disclaimer: Please note: Not all exercises are suitable for everyone. Please consult your doctor or exercise professional before beginning any exercise program.
The instructions and advice presented within this website and accompanying blog and video sites are in no way intended as a substitute for medical or physical therapy counseling.
Backbone and Wingspan LLC as creator, producer and developer of this work disclaims any liabilities or loss in connection with the exercises and advice herein.