Fitness pro and pilates expert Ilaria Cavagna created the High Heel Rescue method to help her clients lessen their foot, knee and lower back pain. “The feet are too often neglected in most workouts like running, spinning, boxing, rowing classes,” she exclusively tells Us Weekly. “Everybody is obsessed by how they look and assume they are doing a full body workout but until we include our feet, it’s not a real full body workout.”
Girls alum Williams trains with Cavagna and does the exercises at home as well. “I’ve been working with Ilaria for several years now, and a lot of our work has been to undo damage that a long night in sky-high heels does to my back, legs and hips,” the Get Out actress says on the workout’s site. “High Heel Rescue has improved the function of my entire body. My feet and calves cramp less, my back hurts less.”
Although mainstream sweat sessions focus on body parts associated with a sculpted physique like the core, legs or butt, Cavagna says that feet actually play a crucial and underrated role in how the body looks and performs. “Yes, the feet are small, [so] we think they are not important, but they sustain us and carry us everywhere,” she tells Us. “By working out the feet and keeping them healthy and pain free … we stand better, we have less issues at the knees, lower back and neck, we look more confident, we run faster … the benefits are many and very powerful. You need to develop balance, precision and strength if you want to elegantly walk in heels … so like pro athletes during their off-season will do a recovery workout to reorganize their body, also we need to take care of our feet when we are not walking in heels.”
Cavagna has clients, including Williams and Davis Jeter, perform an eight-minute series of moves a few days a week while barefoot. “It’s structured like a mini-workout and follows the rules and progressions of any regular workout that you are familiar with: warm-up, core of the workout, stretching,” she tells Us.
The main goal of the method: strengthen and move the ankles and feet to activate the tiny muscles that are often neglected, Cavagna explains. A sequence of one to two-minute long moves that Williams and Davis Jeter may start with is ‘hugging’ each toe with their fingers then circling their ankles in both directions to increase circulation. Next, to strengthen the entire length of their feet, place their feet on a medium-size towel and use the front-bottom section of their feet to pull the towel toward them. “This helps work the muscles that support the arch and also the super tiny muscles that are in between the long bones of your foot,” Cavagna notes. “They deserve to move as much your biceps and your abs!” To finish, they’ll do standing calf raises on a step. “These are a wonderful transition to wearing heels,” says Cavagna.
To truly build up strength in the feet, and therefore get the benefits of less pain while in heels, Cavagna explains that consistency is key. “My wish is that people learn how a couple of exercises a day are really beneficial and just do them in front of the couch, under the desk at work, at the end of their regular workout at the gym or after a night out in heels.”
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