Yesterday I wrote about grief and feeling tired, overwhelmed and generally lacking in energy. One of the solutions I mentioned was a single calf stretch. Pictured here:
Today I’m following up with an attempt I made at taking a picture of myself doing a double calf stretch. Check it out:
So this is the general position of doing a double calf stretch, which is a great stretch for the giant, sorely underused muscles up the back of our legs. Our calf, hamstring, and butt muscles are all designed to hold up our bodies during a normal gait cycle, or just standing around. Unfortunately, very few people actually use them for that. Because we start wearing heeled shoes as wee ones (this applies to you too, men! Look at your shoe right now. Even if it’s a sneaker. See that padding under the back of your foot? That’s a HEEL.) our weight starts to pitch forward over the balls of our feet and our quads start to take on the bulk of the job. Oh, and our knees, ankles, and balls of our feet. This is why bunions, plantar fasciitis, knee replacements and hip replacements have become so common. Our hamstrings and glutes are all like, “Yo! I’m still back here and ginormous and stuff! Why don’t you use me?” And we’re all like, “But, but, Jimmy Choos!” And our knees are all like, “Ouch.” But I digress. The basics of the double calf stretch are this:
- Find a chair or low coffee table.
- Go stand about a foot in front of it. If you’re using a chair, turn it so the seat is facing you.
- Line up the outside edges of your feet with a straight edge so they’re parallel to each other.
- Get them pelvis width apart. See yesterday’s post for instructions.
- Lean down and put your hands flat on the chair seat or coffee table. What are your shoulders doing? Are they up around your ears? Relax them down. Let your head hang down too.
- Release your belly. Let it hang and relax for once. It’s okay, no one’s looking.
- Now slowly bring your hips back so they’re over your heels. Feel that? Awesome. If there’s a lot of sensation from this, just stay there.
- If you’re like “I don’t feel anything” that’s okay. It’s not about the feeling. Incremental lengthening is what we’re after.
- Now, lift your tailbone towards the ceiling. Ahhhhh. That’s the ticket.
- Hold for a minute.
- Repeat as much as you like. Lengthen those posterior muscles! They’ll thank you for it!
Now, if you do this stretch and then go put your Jimmy Choos back on and sit at a desk all day, and then your couch and THEN your bed, there’s really no point in doing it. Try to slowly (ever so slowly) work your way down to smaller heels, and eventually no heels. Walk and stand more. Add some movement into your day wherever you can. Squat to pick stuff up. Move more, and allow your posterior muscles to do the work they’re meant to do by keeping your weight back in your heels while your feet are straight and pelvis width apart. Your knees and hips and future self will thank you for it.
If you want more on this, check out my “Fix Your Feet” series here. Or, get Katy Bowman’s books Move Your DNA and Whole Body Barefoot here. Or, contact me to set up an assessment here. Or do all of the above. Your health is worth the time. YOU are worth the time.