A foot to the earthWritten by Erica Foulds-Capon September 18, 2019
The sun has definitely started to go to bed a bit earlier now, dare I say it I considered getting out a pair of long cosy pajama bottoms the other evening, but the silver lining is that the studio is looking so beautiful in our evening classes as the orange sun sets over the rooftop of the neighbouring barn bathing us as we exercise in the last moments of warm summer evening sun! I hope you have been loving trying out the exercises in each article of this series, but if you are new to our articles, Hummingbird Yoga and Pilates has two articles each month sharing with you some wonderful tools to help you find wellness, relaxation, and discovering a stronger physical body and mind.
With my articles I have been working on a kind of journey of discovery for the past 8 months looking at the body from head to toe, seeing if there are any body parts or joint niggles which simple daily exercises could help with. We have reached the final part of this series landing us on our feet quite literally, our feet, ankles and the muscles leading to and around the knees.
We looked at hips and thighs in the last edition and talked about the quadriceps and hamstrings, these muscles run vertically down the legs and they both ‘end’ at and around the knee, they allow movement from this joint and equally create stability around this joint for all weight bearing activities, from walking whilst shopping, jumping off a bus to running - in any context! Therefore, there is a significant relationship between the hips and knees, when one is injured and not working effectively the other can easily be affected too. It is very common that a knee issue or niggle will result in a referral from a physiotherapist to pilates due to the fact we work specifically on strengthening weak hip muscles. If there are issue with the glutes not providing effective support to the top of the leg, when we put excessive and regular strain through the body, e.g. running without correct technique, the knee could become injured. Equally so the biggest muscle that runs down the back of our lower leg is the calf, or gastroscnemius, joins right down to the achillies and peroneal tendon which are heavily responsible for ankle and foot movement. When the calf muscle or ankle tendons connecting between the knee and ankle aren’t strong both joints can be affected.
Keeping our ankle and feet strong is often last on our list of exercises when we think of what to do, but they are the first part of our body to shock absorb, they balance us, they feed back to the rest of our body about the surface we are standing on, so they deserve some respect and time!
Here are some great fail safe and easy ways to hit those lower leg muscles;
Standing calf raises – stand facing a wall with hands on wall to support or a chair to hold on to, feet hip width apart, rise up on to the ball of the foot, heels as high as possible and slowly down, this may feel easy but do 20 without a rest and you’ll feel the effects. Why not progress – stand side on to wall, one hand on wall, lift one knee so foot is 6 inches off floor, do the raises with one leg for 10 minimum without stopping!
Calf stretch – facing wall, one foot steps approx 2 foot behind the other, front knee bent, back leg straight, pressing hell to floor, hold for 15 seconds.
Walking lunges – hands at waist, keep torso upright, take a big step forward, bend both knees to sink towards floor, front knee should bend towards a 90 degree angle but DO NOT let the front knee shoot over foot creating a too sharp angle at the knee. ‘Walk’ into the next step again repeating the deep lunge movement. 10 deep lunges (5 per leg) will give you a great ankle and knee challenge.
I’m excited to announce that I will be running a Pilates retreat at Hummingbird on October 27th. The retreat will offer an exciting mix of energetic exploration, how equipment can add fun and different dimensions to your pilates training, revisiting some of the basics and consolidating the foundations of your practise, seeing what challenging we can make and master. We will also give a whole session dedicated to exploring your spinal and joint mobility aiming to leave you moving more freely and feeling relaxed not forgetting the chance to have pure me-time, maybe a massage, or just some wonderful time to yourself.
All details on our classes and retreats at Hummingbird Yoga and Pilates can be found on our website; you can book and pay online with our easy to use booking system! www.hummingbirdpilates.co.uk, email [email protected] or call 01245 422556.