I hope you got out and enjoyed the recent cold weather! Personally, I love it and it had me thinking about the importance of restoring and maintaining mobility in our feet and everything above them. That mobility will improve circulation; circulation that is essential for the nerves, muscles and skin of the feet and lower legs. The more 'alive' your feet the better they will be able to sustain you.
I have described the single Calf Stretch in a previous blog as a starting point and today I'm giving you the double Calf Stretch. Foot issues stem from tension in the legs as well as within the foot. Tight hamstrings and calves affect the feet and the hips. This tension may be the reason you have a foot problem or indeed a lower back issue. Our bodies are constantly adapting to input whether that input is long periods of time spent sitting in chairs or standing all day in a positive heeled shoe.
Consider the double Calf Stretch a position or a tool to help you see how the tension in the back of your legs may be affecting movement around your ankle, knee and/or hip. Ask yourself can you straighten your leg or are you walking and standing with your knees always bent? Not great for your knees. Can you bend forward at the hip as opposed to always flexing your spine (as in image 3)? Is the tension down the back of your legs so great that it’s difficult to spend even a few seconds in this position?
Stand in front of a chair with your feet hip distance apart
Keep your legs straight, your feet pointing forward and your weight back in your heels.
Keeping your spine neutral, let your pelvis tip forward until your hands or arms rest on a chair. This might be the back of the chair (as above) or the seat depending on your body proportions or the tension in the back of your legs.
Rest there for a few seconds and try to relax your lower back towards the floor.
For a more advanced version, place a blanket, rolled towel or half dome under the balls of your feet
Note: The movement is at the hip, don’t flex the spine to get to the chair.
Tight hamstrings and calves will make it difficult to straighten your legs. Perhaps when you go to bend at the hip, you realise that it’s not that easy. I don’t know about you but I want to maintain and improve as much range of motion as possible, particularly as I age. The good news is if you start peppering this exercise throughout the day, you are going to make some positive changes to your body.
Awareness is the first step to improving your health.