Dear students, it was wonderful to have you all in my workshop. I hope that you are enjoying great health and are making these exercises a part of your daily routine.
To help you organize things better, below you will see a list of all the exercises we have done in a few categories:
awareness, release, stretch, strengthen and gait
After the descriptions and pictures/video, I will give you suggestions about how to structure your workouts at home
1. Become aware of your abdomen, pelvic floor, glutes. As you stand, sit, drive, talk, make sure that you are not holding any extra tension there. Allow yourself to be relaxed.
2. Notice how much you sit in chairs vs using the floor or standing. Start incorporating more floor positions for sitting and stand when you can. For example, when the phone rings, get up and talk standing instead of sitting at your desk.
3. Become aware of how you stand: feet straight, hip width, always have your weight in your heels, kneecaps relaxed, pelvis neutral, head carefully balanced on top of your head. Be aware NOT to push your ribs forward. Keep belly, jaw and knees relaxed.
4. Advanced awareness: as you become comfortable with standing in Restorative Exercise (TM) stance, start to rotate the femurs out, so you can have your kneepits pointing back and kneecaps pointing straight in front of you.
5. Toilet habits: it’s ok to pee in the shower, squatting, if you can do it. That will put your pelvis in a great position for it. When you go on your toilet, try to relax your belly and pelvic floor. Going there with tension will not allow you to go fully.
1. Work on your foot with a tennis ball. Leave one lying around so you can do it all the time at home, at work, before your exercise session. Go between toe joints on the ball of the foot, dig deep when it’s hard and beefy. Spend at least 1 min each side a couple of times per day.
2. Belly release – get on all four and untuck your pelvis. Allow the belly to drop toward the floor. Breathe for 1-2 minutes in this position.
1. Calf stretch – place foot on half dome. Take gentle steps forward. Hold for 1 minute on each side. Repeat up to 3 times.
2. Double calf stretch – place both feet on dome, slowly start to work your hips back and your tailbone up. Support yourself with chair. Relax. Spend at least 1 min in this position, up to 3 times. As you become more advanced work on rotating femurs out to align kneecaps. Relax kneecaps as often as you can.
3. Top of the foot stretch – stand with feet at hip width. Stretch one foot behind you and place weight evenly on the top of the toes. Make sure you have a mirror so you know if the weight of the foot is distributed evenly from big toe to small toe. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Ideally knee should be straight, however if it’s too hard, bend the knee or sit on a chair to modify the stretch and make it easier.
4. Piriformis stretch – sit on chair with neutral pelvis (sitz bones down, neutral spine). Place ankle on top of opposite knee. Lean gently forward from hips. Hold for 60-90 seconds and repeat up to 3 times.
5. Piriformis stretch on wall. Get on your back with your pelvis neutral. Stretch your legs up on the wall. Bring one ankle over across your leg, making sure your pelvis stays neutral the whole time. Start walking the straight leg down slowly until you get to a point where you feel a gentle stretch. Hold there for a minute. Then follow with walking the base leg out, turning both the foot an the knee out at 30 degrees. This may take the opposite side of the pelvis off the ground, that is fine. Hold for a min and do the other side. Be gentle as you transition from side to side and cultivate peace and relaxation in the stretch. Do as many as 3 sets. Put something under your head.
6.Strap stretch. Lay on your back. Place the strap under the ball of your foot. Gently pull up with your arms (dont force up with the leg muscles). Keep pelvis neutral – if you lose your low back curve you have gone too far. Pull toes toward you – you can also pull the outside of the foot strap tighter to align the foot. Keep foot flexed at all times. After 1 min you can bring the leg across the body to change the line of pull. Spend another minute in that position. Do up to 3 times per side.
7. Chair hamstring stretch – instead of strap stretch, if you don’t want to lay down, place your heel on a chair. Pull toes up toward you. Make sure the base foot is straight. Start to push your hips back and lean gently forward from the hips. Hold the stretch for 1 min each side. Pay attention to to force it by pressing the ribs down and stressing the low back. It’s all a hip movement.
8. Laying cobbler stretch – place feet together and drop knees apart. It’s best to have something under your head. Allow the knees to drop apart, keeping the pelvis neutral. Hold for 60-90 seconds. If it’s too easy, do the stacked cobbler, bringing one ankle to the crease of the opposite knee. Do as many as 3 sets.
9. Legs on the wall stretch -place your pelvis 1 or so feet away from the wall – you should be far enough so your pelvis is neutral. Bring legs up and slowly walk them down the wall. For the advanced version externally rotate the femurs. Hold for 1 min as many as 3 sets.
11. Calf and piriformis combo stretch – sit with legs straight. Place a strap under the ball of the foot. Cross other leg over with knees evening on top of each other. Pull strap in so foot is fully flexed. Do not strain the knee cap. Bend gently from the hips and hold. Breathe. Hold for 1 min on each side for up to 3 sets. Remember to sit on block if your tail rounds under.
1. Individual toe lifts – stand in REx stance, weight in your heels. Gently lift your big toe, then all the toes. Play with placing them down one by one, starting with the pinky. Do as many as 20-3o attempts. You can do this sitting if standing is too challenging.
2. Forefoot eversion – sit with legs straight. Place strap under ball of foot. Flex the foot and keep it straight. Push forward with the ball of foot, making sure you don’t move excessively from the ankle. You can also sit with your feet toward a wall and place heels 1-2 inches away. Then try to touch it. Do 15-20 reps in 2-3 sets.
3. Glute bridge -place feet under knees, shanks vertical. Ideally you should be able to touch your fingers to your heels. Push heels into the floor and let that lift your pelvis up. Hold 2 seconds in top position. Do 12-15 in 3-4 sets.
4. Prone hip extension – single leg and double leg. Lay on your belly. Press pubic bone into the floor. Lift one leg up and hold for 10 seconds. Then the other. Then both. You can place a block above the knees to hold while lifting both. Whether you choose single or double or both do 10 of each for 10 seconds. Press public bone down to stay stable and not compensate with the low back.
5. Listing – place one foot on a block or the floor. Shift your weight back so all weight is on the back of the heel and you feet your glutes and side of your leg turn on. Keeping pelvis even with the ground lift the other foot off the ground. For advanced skill, relax the kneecap and rotate femurs out so kneecaps and knee pits are straight. Hold as long as possible with good form on both sides, up to 3 sets.
6. Monster walks – place your yellow band around the ankles. Feet straight at hip width. Torso stacked. If you must, lean forward to get in alignment with the lower body. Shift weight into heels. Shift weight onto one foot and keeping pelvis and body straight, lift the other to the side and take a small step. Do 10-12 on each side, for up to 3 sets, and pay attention to drop the kneecaps. It’s not about BIG steps, it’s about WAKING UP the glutes, should be a similar feeling to the list.
7. Shank rotation – sit with knees bent. Flex the foot up. Do your best to rotate in and out without involving the ankle. You can massage the side of the calf to relax the muscles if they are not releasing and allowing the rotation. Do 20-30 times with each leg till you feel like you are getting it. Do 1-2 sets.
8. Quadruped rock back. Position yourself on all 4. From here untuck your pelvis and curl toes under. Start to sit back making sure the low back stays neutral. Move only at the hips. Do 12-15 reps in 2-3 sets.
9. Squat with heel raise – roll up a towel or mat and place heels on it with feet wider than hip width. Start to slowly lower yourself down making sure the shanks stay relatively vertical and the tail does not tuck under. Hold at the bottom for 4-5 seconds and come up for 8-10 reps. Depending on your strength you can do as many as 4-5 sets, but pace yourself. You can use a strap tied to something or a door to hold yourself from falling back. For an advanced version you can get rid of the heel lift and do it just holding onto a door.
To work on gait think of the following components, they will come with time, so don’t force it all at once. When you take your walks (in healthy shoes with no heel) you can focus on one of these elements.
1. Feet straight
2. Face the ground heel first, then midfoot, then ball of foot, then toes. There should not be any out to in movement, I threaten you with bunions and hammertoes if you don’t pay attention!
3. Push off with the hamstrings and glutes. That means you cannot fall forward, or walk like a water bird. The back leg pushes, always.
4. Reciprocal arm swing – say goodbye to flabby arms – as you lift the arm back behind you and then let the pendulum type motion swing it in front you are creating healthy lymph flow, stable spine and a lovely length in your torso. No swing, no glory!
Sooo, that’s it for now. Using your glutes to squat, lift your legs and push yourself off as you walk will ensure you get your pelvic floor to optimal length. As you stretch your legs you lay a great foundation for strength (because you cant make a short muscle strong). As you release the belly sucking and pelvic floor tucking you allow natural pressure to occur in the abdominal area. You will do so much better if you practice these daily.
If you are wondering where to start, you can do the following:
1. Do both releases
2. Choose 4 stretches
3. Choose 3 strength exercises
4. Work on 1 component of gait
If you have more time, go through more.
Once every couple of weeks go through ALL of these in a little over 90 minutes, it will be a great experience.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know and call me at 9494299800 or write me an email.
Don’t forget every Wednesday at 9 I teach a Restorative Exercise class at Athlete’s Choice.
Stay healthy and active: