Foot pain, especially when first standing in the morning, is a common problem. It’s usually diagnosed as plantar fasciitis, inflammation of the thick band of connective tissue on the sole of the foot. This fascia is continuous with the Achilles tendon at the heel. Sitting for extended periods, and wearing positive-heeled shoes, can cause your calf muscles to shorten and tighten, pulling on the Achilles and in turn the plantar fascia.
Tight Calves Can Cause A (Body) World of Hurt
Tight calves cause more problems than just foot pain; they put unnatural stress on your spine with each step and can lead to knee, pelvis, back or even neck pain. Regular stretching can help correct your alignment and reduce pain.
This calf stretch is an essential Nutritious Movement® corrective exercise (thank you, Katy Bowman). Practice it as often as possible, at least, a few times a day. Work up to holding for 60 seconds; breathe, relax and try to feel the release. It works best if you do a couple of repeats in each session.
© Nutritious Movement®
What You’ll Need:
- A half-cylinder foam roller or rolled up towel.
- A mirror is helpful, especially the first few times, so you can see if everything is in line.
Get your gastrocs – the superficial layer of your calf:
- Start in correct stance*, shoes off, facing the half-dome.
*outside edges of feet parallel, at pelvis width; weight back on heels; legs straight; kneecaps relaxed
- Step up with one leg, placing the ball of your foot on the top of the dome. Let your heel drop to the ground.
- Try to step forward with the other leg, as if you were walking.
- If you start to lean, or twist, step back slightly to shorten your stride.The key is to keep straight, vertical legs with your weight over the stretching leg heel.
Yes, that is my canine companion, Cadeau, in the background; she loves getting in on any exercise.
Tweaks for best results:
- Feet at pelvis width, outside edges parallel.
- Vertical legs, knees fully extended; knee-caps relaxed.
- Pelvis and shoulders square, facing forward.
- Weight over the heel of the stretching leg (the one on the dome).
- Ribs tucked in; head aligned with ear over your shoulder.
Don’t forget soleus – the deep layer of your calf:
- Slightly bend the knee of the stretching leg.
- Be sure to keep your heel down. You should feel the stretch closer to your ankle.
Your Whole Body Will Thank You
Regular practice of this calf stretch can help to:
- Mobilize ankles.
- Lengthen stride for optimal gait.
- Reduce stress on knees.
- Release pelvic floor.
- Align spine.
- Strengthen bones.
- Promote circulation and reduces stress on your heart.
Really? Yes; I’ll elaborate in a future post so stay tuned. Until then, don’t just sit there, give it a try.
P.S. This is a perfect stretch to do at your standing workstation. Or while talking on the phone, or doing dishes…