Who wouldn’t enjoy parties more in her slippers? The sole-crushing footwear you wear instead can wreak havoc on the 100-plus muscles, ligaments, and tendons in each ankle and foot, causing—ouch!—pain. Soothe your feet with stretches designed by Katy Bowman, a human-movement expert in Los Angeles and the creator of the Aligned and Well DVD series ($15 each, alignedandwell.com). Do the four-move circuit detailed on the following slides—up to three times daily while you’re on, say, the holiday party circuit—holding each move for up to a minute.
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Move 1: Straight-Leg Stretch
Sit on the floor facing a wall with your legs straight and your feet flat against the wall. (You may want to sit on a pillow to make the move more comfortable.) Bend forward as far as you can to stretch and lengthen your calf muscles and hamstrings (wearing heels can cause them to tighten).
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Move 2: Toe Release
Stand as if you’ve just taken a step forward with your right leg (so your left leg is behind you). Tuck your left foot under so the tops of your toes touch the floor. You should feel a stretch along the top of your foot. Hold, then switch feet.
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Move 3: Five-Finger Toe Spread
Sit on a chair and cross your left leg, resting your ankle on your right thigh. Weave the fingers of your right hand through the toes of your left foot to separate them. Focus on spreading your toes wide; try not to pull them up or down. Hold, then switch sides.
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Move 4: Wall V-Stretch
Lie on your back with your bottom a few inches from a wall and your arms out. Place your heels on the wall with your legs forming a wide V. You’ll feel a gentle pull in your inner thighs. Overly tight inner-thigh muscles can overload the arches of your feet, so this stretch can relax them when they’re cramped. Plus, elevating the legs reduces swelling