Thursday, August 16, 2012

Gentle Stretches To Prep Feet, Ankles and Lower Legs.

In this post I've laid out a few simple and gentle stretches to warm-up and prep the feet (especially if you are going to be doing something barefoot or with with minimal foot wear like ballet slippers), the ankles and the lower legs and even up into the hamstrings and glutes. I show them while holding onto a chair, but you can easily do them with hands pressed against, say a wall or a counter. You can even do them without your hands on anything but your hips or stabilizing you on your non-gesture leg (the support leg).

Before you begin take a moment to get in touch with your core.

Imagine pulling your belly button to your spine.

Imagine pulling on a very tight vest or corset made of muscle around your ribcage. Yes, exactly like something Lady Gaga would wear.

Feel the area of your lumbar spine lengthen. Not by tucking the pelvis under, but rather feeling the lower back region elongate.

Feel your collar bones open up as if someone has pasted the backs of your shoulder blades to a coat hanger. Don't forget your ribs. No popping!

Okay, where were we...

Exercise #1; waking up the achilles tendon.

Start with the back leg as straight as you can get it.

Then bend the knee of the back leg while keeping the heel in contact with the floor. It may be a very small range of motion.

Do a few rounds, 4 to 8 reps.

Exercise #2; working through the foot.

Going back to our starting stance...

Straighten the front leg as you elongate through the back leg until just the ball of the foot is in contact with the floor, toes spreading out on the ground.

Now extend, or point the toes, and oh so gently press over the top of them. You will feel the stretch on the top of foot. Roll back down through the foot to your starting position.

4-8 reps.

In the video below there is a section where you can add some ankle rotations while also engaging the glutes of the gesture leg and quads of the support leg.

Exercise #3; gentle hamstring stretch.

Transfer your weight to the gesture leg (so, if you were just doing the previous exercises with the right leg, then your weight would have been on your left. Now you are transferring the weight to the right leg). Flex the foot of the front leg.

While holding the stretch, switch between flexing the front foot and then placing it flat on the ground.

4-8 reps. It is important to continue moving through the two foot placements rather than holding each one for an extended period, as this is a warm-up.

Using the flexed position for transitions, alternate rotating the leg inwardly and outwardly.
Do as many as you feel are needed.

Be sure and switch sides. You can switch sides in between exercises or do the series one side at a time. Just keep track of how many reps you do on each side.

Below is a video of all exercises together. I'm still trying to master Movie Maker for Windows. An old dog can learn new tricks, but in my case, really flip'in slow! Its a bit dark and somehow the music continues to play to 5:00, although the action only goes to about 2:00. Ugh. I'll nail it down eventually. But our family dog Mia decided to help out and forage for table scraps!

I hope you find these exercises useful.

Thanks for reading and watching.

Enjoy the dance that is life!

No comments:

Post a Comment