There is a way to stack our bones that encourages cell and bone regeneration and optimal function. The body is a remarkable feat of engineering but, like anything else we value, it needs to be utilised and cared for in a very specific way. You wouldn't build a big balcony on the second storey of your house without supporting pillars to hold it up. When our habits destabilise our bodys' foundation we create friction (like a crack appearing in your wall), which can then manifest in all sorts of ways in different people. One of the most important things we can do on the journey to moving well is to strengthen our lateral hip muscles (these guys are load bearing in builders terms!)
Over the last 2 weeks we have recognised that there is a good chance that we spend a lot of time with our pelvis over our toes. Last week some people discovered that their knee caps were in the locked on position almost all of the time. So we worked on gettting our weight back into our heels and made the connection that tightness in the back of the legs can make that challenging (hello calf stretch). We even discovered what happens when we slip even the smallest of heels underneath our feet.
When we look to take care of our hips (and knees and ankles...) we need to bring the pelvis back over the heels and strengthen our lateral hip muscles. Hence our motto "push your butt back" (we are all class here people) becomes stronger and clearer each week as we fit the pieces of this human shaped puzzle together.
We will benefit hugely from learning to use these muscles. They are the key to holding us in optimal alignment and propelling us strongly forward as we walk. Many of us barely use them at all because .......... we walk with our feet too close together, feet turned out and pelvis forward. Mmm, that sounds familiar. So what's the solution? - Welcome to the world of the Monster Walk - strap optional! When our lateral hips get stronger it becomes easier to move well - and when you move well your lateral hips become even stronger. A lovely cycle of regeneration through normal daily activity is just what we want.
Initially many people (myself included) will feel like they are going to topple over when they take the weight back into the heels. They will thrust their ribs out instead and pull the shoulders back, stressing those tired, stiff and sore rhomboids. Here is a delightful clip from Barbara Loomis (Restorative Exercise Specialist™) outlining the pitfalls of this method and how to avoid it.
It is much easier to back your hips up when you untuck your tailbone - and the first step there is to release the psoas and the muscles in the back of your legs. So they will also be big themes for us today.
Save your knees and hips everyone - build a butt!
Daily Maintenance Week 4:
(We are slowly working our way through the Restorative Exercise™ handout given out in Week 1)
Calf Stretch - 30 seconds to one minute each side, at least twice a day (if you don't have a 1/2 dome you can use a rolled up hand towel or something similar) - refer to handout
Foot Stretch - 30 seconds to one minute each side, at least twice a day - if the top of your foot is very tight you can try the chair version - refer to handout
Knee Cap Release - Start with straight legs and try to lift and lower your knee caps. Find a wall to lean against if you are having difficulty standing. Start off with the feet about 30cm away. Once you've achieved the Knee Cap Release here move a little closer. 30 seconds to one minute - or any time you find yourself standing around - you know the drill!
Monster Walk - Are you ready!? With or without resistance band. Feet are straight, hip width apart. If using the band keep tension on it. Your weight is in your heels. Start at one end of your mat, hips forward and move sideways - one step at a time. Go up and down your mat around 4 times.
Here is Katy Bowman demonstrating a lovely way to release the muscles that can impact the hips, the back, the knees and more.
Weakness in the muscles of the feet has a big impact on the health of the hips. (Can you lift and spread your toes wide like we did in week 2? Now can you lift and lower them individually!?) Check out these gorgeous new minimalist shoes that came along with their owner to last weeks class!
Last week we looked at frog swimming which is a Somatic exercise for the hips and the knees. Here is James Knight teaching it: