Repeat after me: I do not need to elevate my heels to elevate myself. I am feminine, powerful, and beautiful in flats or even barefoot.
I'm not saying I haven't worn my share of heels, and I'm not saying you have to throw out every pair of heels and never wear them again. You may want to do just that after reading this post. You'll at least want to wear them less and know what to do to counteract them by the end.
Wearing a heel, even a tiny one, causes imbalances all the way up the spine, harms the pelvic floor, and is damaging to anyone with a diastasis recti. They are responsible for knee pain, back pain, pelvic pain, plantar fasciitis, corns, bunions, and even headaches.
When you wear heels you place unnatural pressure on the front of the foot with all of its little bones and muscles. Most women's heels (and many flats) are far too narrow for the foot placing even more pressure on the tissue of the front of the foot and toes. Since your heels are elevated your weight is shifted forward, but you aren't leaning forward, at least it doesn't look that way. The pelvis and spine have to adjust to this unnatural position to keep you upright.
Your calf muscles are shortened, as are all of the muscles up the back of the leg when you wear heels. If you've been wearing heels all the time it may be quite painful to place your heel on the ground. In this case you need to take it slow and not move straight into totally flat shoes immediately, rather take your time with it and take it in baby steps.
Here is the surprise: most shoes have a heel, an elevated heel. If you look at your athletic shoes and measure the heel vs the toe box you will probably find that the heel is higher than the toe box. What I want you to look for is a zero rise shoe~ a shoe with no rise~ totally flat. You will also want to get a shoe that is actually as wide as your foot. Put your shoe on the floor next to your bare foot. Is it really wide enough for you are, like Cinderella's step-sister, are you squeezing your forefoot into it?
The SOAR Healthy Foot Series covers all of this and a lot more, including the exercises to help your feet overcome the damage and stress of wearing heels and what to look for in new shoes. If I had to give you one thing to do though it would be a good calf stretch. Here is a quick video I made for Instagram a while ago of my favorite calf stretch, which comes from Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement.
For more videos and info you should follow the SOAR Instagram @soar.studio