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Movement Vitamins Challenge Week 2: The Calf Stretch
This calf stretch is the foundation of better movement. How can something so simple be so important?
#1 Modern Movement Patterns Have Shortened Your Calves
Shoes and sitting – the evil twins of modern sedentary life – have both been shortening your calves since you first started to toddle. Women who have worn high heels their whole lives can lose up to 13% of their calf length! But even if you’ve been wearing flats your calf muscles are probably shorter than they should be.
This adaptation decreases your metabolism and forces you to walk by falling instead of by using your muscles. This ALSO decreases your metabolism, stresses your joints, decreases your bone density, and contributes to pelvic floor disorder, back pain and more! The calf stretch is the first step (haha) in getting your walking back.
#2 What Happens In The Lower Body Is Amplified In The Upper Body
Short, tight calves affect your entire movement pattern – and the impacts actually increase the further you are from your calves. When you take a step by falling forward, your head travels further (and faster) than your pelvis. This is known as angular acceleration, if you’re feeling nerdy. So if you have tight shoulders and neck pain, guess what? You should be stretching your calves!
#3 The Calf Stretch Is The Perfect Way To Practice Lower Body Alignment
All the Restorative Exercise correctives are ways to help your brain learn new motor programs. In the calf stretch, you can practice keeping your feet pointing straight ahead, keeping your weight over your heels, and keeping your feet pelvis width apart. The more you practice in the ‘lab’, the more these habits translate into your regular life – which is where you’ll get the biggest benefits.
The Calf Stretch
This Week’s Challenge & Some Handy Tips
Your challenge this week is to do 3 sets of Calf Stretches every day – work up to holding them for a minute – PLUS 3 sets of 10-12 Rhomboid Push Ups.
This calf stretch is really versatile – you can do it while you’re drinking your morning coffee, brushing your teeth after your coffee, or any other time you’re standing around. Do it in front of a mirror sometimes to catch any little ‘cheats’ that sneak in, but most of all, just do it! Do it any time, any where – the more, the better. Your body adapts to frequency!
One other hint – don’t let your stretching foot squash your half dome. Rest it lightly and let the back of your legs do the work.
Let me know how it goes on my Facebook page or in the comments below.
P.S. Don’t forget to pick up your own Movement Vitamin Workout Plan – it’s basically a Movement Multivitamin! All the Movement Vitamins in one handy spot for you to keep, for free!
Petra is a movement educator and personal trainer with a passion for helping people find greater ease, joy and health in their bodies. She believes that better movement can help every body - and she's always happy to chat about it. When she's not teaching, you'll probably find her hanging out on a set of monkey bars.