What One Thing Can I Change Today?

Feet Straight Ahead

That's it! That's all I'm going to suggest for this week. Well ok, it's not all - but if there was only one thing you practiced every day this week - at least 20 times each day...check the alignment of your feet.

Our movement operating system starts from the ground up. As soon as our feet splay out our weight starts to move forward into our toes and the chain reaction puts pressure on the joints of the body that can lead to pain and injury. 

Just by standing differently you can bring life to your intrinsic foot muscles - strengthen your ankles, hips and spine, improve your balance - recalibrate your leg muscles and even do core work.

So feet straight ahead also means:

  • feet are hip distance apart, weight is in your heels
  • legs are straight, but the knee caps are relaxed
  • hips are above the ankles
  • bottom ribs line up with hip bones
  • shoulders are above hips, ears in line with shoulders
  • you could also try putting a 1/2 dome or block or book between your thighs and practice externally rotating your upper thighs while your feet are straight ahead

See what I did there? I just managed to make your one thing 8 things. But this is such a great way to develop strength in your everyday life. Get used to doing it every time you stand up. Recalibrate healthy standing - and then that can move towards optimal walking. We know it is going to take time, but it will be worth it.

Always, whether it is feet straight ahead or learning to sit differently - honour your body's messaging system. Pain is the inbuilt alert system to tell you that the body is stressed. We aren't going to change anything overnight - so enjoy the journey - be curious and take your time.

PS. It takes time for your tissues to adjust to these new ways of moving. In order to feel comfortable and natural with your feet straight ahead - you are going to benefit hugely from you calf stretch and toe stretch and so on. So I've listed some of our A Team below in a way that an entire session can be done around a chair.

  Thoracic Stretch / Chair or Wall:  Place both hands on the top of a chair or wall. Keeping your legs straight but knees relaxed, slowly back up until arms are fully stretched (if your elbows are bending using a chair or bench - then use the wall and bring your arms up higher). Slowly drop your chest toward the floor and gently lift our tailbone. Or you might prefer the alternative way of saying that "push your butt back!" Relax your head.

Thoracic Stretch / Chair or Wall: Place both hands on the top of a chair or wall. Keeping your legs straight but knees relaxed, slowly back up until arms are fully stretched (if your elbows are bending using a chair or bench - then use the wall and bring your arms up higher). Slowly drop your chest toward the floor and gently lift our tailbone. Or you might prefer the alternative way of saying that "push your butt back!" Relax your head.

Just in case you missed the class earlier in the term where I explained the anatomy of sitting using my portable skeleton, here is a 13 second Katy Bowman video that shows what it looks like to sit on your tailbone (tailbone tuck - not a good idea but very common) and what it looks like to roll of your tailbone and relax your lower back (you'll hear the cheers).

  • Double Calf Stretch 
  • Thoracic Stretch (using wall or chair, you can add side to side)
  • Toe Stretch
  • Finger Stretch 
  • Head Ramp and Head Hang neck release
  • Seated Arch and Release and Arch and Curl
  • Seated Number 4 Stretch
  • Seated Wide Leg Big Hip to Shoulder Circles

(What if you did 1/2 of these, every hour, or even once in the morning and once in the afternoon? As well as get up and move around every 3 minutes for 1/2 hour - remember the app from the sitting session? Ok, I'm done!)