grace and, importantly, without pain or injury.”
In the gym, Chu recommends leg lifts to elongate calves, and squats to tone legs and build up core strength. At your desk, strengthen ankles by writing the alphabet with your big toe on each foot. Never go cold turkey, making a sudden switch to flats, as this can be detrimental. “Wearing heels causes calf muscles and Achilles tendons to shorten. Switching to flats overstretches both, causing pain,” Potter explains. “Instead, gradually wear lower heels to get the muscles used to flat shoes.”
1. Regularly check your posture. Stand with the back of your head against a wall, placing heels 15cm away. Your buttocks and shoulders should touch the wall and there should be less than 5cm between your neck and the wall. Anything more indicates a curving spine.
2. If your arches are aching after a day in heels, try placing your bare
foot on top of a tennis ball on the floor, positioning the ball just behind the line of your toes. Applying downward force, slowly roll the ball from one end of your foot to the other. Continue for as long as it feels comfortable and then change feet.
3. For five minutes every day, lie on the floor with your head resting on a few cms of books. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor. This will release neck tension and realign the spine.
A heavy tote can weigh on average 6.2kg, but however much we may love a carryall, we have to face the possibility that our backs do not. “A large bag worn on the shoulder strains both the shoulder and the lower back,” says Chu. The neck naturally leans away from a heavy bag in order to balance the weight, your spine curves and your vertebrae become compressed. Too much of this strain and before you know it, you will have neck pain and muscle inflammation.
While it is vital to keep swapping the sides on which you carry your bag, back-pain expert Esther Gokhale also recommends the following exercise (gokhalemethod.
com). “Sit on a chair and then come away from the back rest. Use one hand across your lower ribs to push them backwards to help you curl forward at the waist,” she says. “Staying curled over, put your hands on the sides of your seat and press down to loosen your top half from your bottom half, lengthening and relaxing back muscles.”
1. Think about the contents of your bag. Opt for a 500ml bottle of water instead of a liter, for example.
2. Carrying your bag in the crook of your arm is the worst place, as it is too far from the body’s core. Switch between shoulders instead.
3. Keep your head up. For every 1cm forward past the center of gravity, is the equivalent of your head weighing 4.5kgs more because of the pressure applied to your spine and shoulders.
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