Don't be bored by this little beauty. Ultimately it has the power to take the aches and pains out of your whole body and make all of your movements that much more powerful.
1. the first step towards optimal alignment
Changing how you stand is the quickest way to change how you move. This contributes to balance, bone density, pelvic floor health and so much more. The calf stretch is the perfect place to emphasise the key aspects of standing well - feet straight ahead, pelvis width apart and your weight back over your heels. At the same time you are releasing the tension in the back of your legs that impacts on how well you can move.
2. Modern ways of moving lead to shorter calves
Sitting in chairs and wearing restrictive shoes with heels (and most shoes do have a heel, even your running shoes) mean that our calves have been getting the message to get shorter since we were first shod. If you have worn shoes with heels for most of your life your calves may be 13% shorter than what might be optimal. Not only does this decrease your metabolism it tends to tip your forward as you walk. I often talk in class about not living over our toes any more, let's wake up our butts instead. Lengthening your calves is a key factor to this being possible. Tight calves also contribute to neck and shoulder tension too.
3. WHAT'S THAT NOW.... My tight calves are CREATING neck and shoulder TENSION?
Yes they are. They push your head forward as you walk with a rebound that travels all the way up from your feet. Instead of that wonderful feeling of a posterior push off (which is really only possible with some nice calf length in place) you are pretty much catching yourself from falling with every step. Walk around your living room and then do a couple of calf stretches on each side. Go for a walk again and see if you can feel even a subtle difference in your stride. Imagine if you did that regularly, and for those of you that do I know I'm preaching to the converted! In our next blog I'll give you another exercise to increase your capacity to wake up your butt when you walk from a whole other angle.
4.Are you bored with brushing your teeth?
Well even if you are you know the benefits outweigh any effort involved, so put your calf stretch into the same compartment - you could even do it at the same time. Twice a day is an ideal minimum and If you are really ready for change - do it more because your body adapts to what you do most often. (Put it this way, do you sit in chairs? If yes then you need to calf stretch). Right now as I type don't have a 1/2 dome handy so I'm using a book. It feels great. I hang out there until I feel everything ease off and relax - all the way up to my neck. Sometimes I might be there for a few minutes, sometimes 30 seconds. When in doubt, calf stretch anyway.
Before and After (the 1st photo is my current calf stretch, check out where my bottom ribs line up over my hips - pretty straight which is ideal. Then look down to the 2nd photo, which was taken a year ago. I discovered it randomly yesterday and was quite taken by the change. On reflection a lot of other things have improved too. I rarely get headaches now (largely related to less neck tension) and I'm much more comfortable in the shoulders too. I can feel my reflexive core more regularly and my glutes engage naturally when I walk. I know that a big part of that transition has been this gem of an exercise. If you haven't yet, give it a real chance for a few months. Your investment in time will have great returns.
And here it is in video format with a few different ways to calf stretch amongst many other things. Amazing what you can achieve in less than 10 minutes!
OVER TO YOU
Ian and Moyneen are on a wonderful adventure and have sent in some classic 'travelling with my 1/2 dome' images! This latest one may be the best yet. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday Ian and Maureen!
Reduced Timetable For Winter
With so many travellers away we won't have 6.30am or 8.00am Tuesday classes over winter. All other classes are running as normal. We'll re-instate early Tuesday classes in Term 4.