Last night I was collaborating on a photoshoot with a friend, and the photographer asked us to wear heels. Being a pole dancer, I happen to have quite the collection of shoes to choose from, and thankfully the skills to walk and dance in them!
The other model however, could not hide her nerves! She had only brought along one pair of heels and soon revealed that she did not feel at all comfortable walking, or even standing in them!
So, as the rest of the photography party played with lighting set ups and camera gear, I spent about twenty minutes coaching my friend on how to keep her balance and make the most of the extra length and extra swag that her heels could offer!
First, some long term strategies to make sure your strut stands out from the rest.
1 – Practice Practice Practice!
When my first pair of 7inch Pleasers arrived, I wore them as much as possible. Not just for pole, but while doing the dishes, vacuuming, and making dinner. For shoes with hard plastic straps, or even boots with stiff PVC, this will help soften them and make them more comfortable for when you are ready to dance. It also helps you stop overthinking how to walk and stand in them, making you feel more natural in the newest addition to your sexy wardrobe! And who doesn’t want to add some glamour to your daily chores!
2 – Good Posture
Walking and dancing in shoes is not just about learning what to do with your feet. Great shoes become an extension of your entire body. Knees, quads, hips, abs, it all helps you walk and not wobble. If you find yourself needing to cruise along furniture or never leaving the handrail, try to think about stabilizing. Use your quads to lift your legs, pulling up the muscles above the knees, hold tight with your core and make sure you are not leaning too far backwards or forwards. Lift your chin and look ahead, not at the ground just in front of your feet. In yoga, instructors talk about a drishti, a technique of fixing your gaze on an unmoving point to help you focus, and balance in one legged poses.
3 – Strengthen your ankles
If you find yourself rolling to the side when walking in heels, you may want to put some time in to strengthening your ankles. Practicing toe point exercises and heel raises will build up the supporting muscles that will help your feet stay in alignment when you are walking. When wearing your heels around the house, try some different walking motions,
- take two steps forward and one step back,
- take a step to the side,
- step wide and then bring your feet back together,
- even try turning around on the spot with the least amount of steps possible!
Now to some points for actually walking.
4 – The Four S’s: Slow, small, steady, steps
Save your Sarah Jessica Parker envy and don’t try and run in heels unless you have had years of practice! Start slow, with small steps. This will help you maintain your centre of gravity and allow you to focus on your technique as described above. Walking slow with small steps will also give you time to correct yourself if you do stumble.
5 – The heel and toe polka
Aside from times when you should be pointing your toes and landing on the platform, most walks in heels should follow a heel toe pattern. A flat footed walk will make you look more like a horse than a woman in control! A heel toe step will give you an elegant gait. But remember, the more slender your stiletto, the more stability you will need in your ankles to not roll as you place your heel down.
6 – Stairs
Walking up and down stairs can also be a nightmare in heels. There are often stairs to get on to a stage, and you would rather keep your composure than stack it before your routine even starts!
Going up – First of all, take it slow, and hold the handrail. Be mindful of how deep the tread of the steps are and if your shoe will fit. Keep the weight in the platform, and consider turning your feet to the side if you want to make sure your heel won’t slip.
Going down – I repeat, take it slow and hold the handrail! Be mindful of your posture and make sure you are not leaning forward, a sure fire way to go A over T. Turn your feet to one side so the platform and heel both make contact with the step.
So now there are no more excuses! Go out and buy some great shoes and get practicing! Keep this link handy for when you see a friend struggling in their heels too!