Quads, of course. Calves, always. But the Feet and Ankles? If you are not on your List of areas that you need to stretch every day, you should be. How to do it correctly
When it comes to stretching the lower body, your hips, thighs and quadriceps are the center of attention. This makes sense because they play an important role in the activities they enjoy. But they are not the only ones who provide the strength to move forward and improve (literally), so it’s strange that most people rarely take the time to show their feet and ankles the same love and appreciation.
If you think about it, your feet and ankles do a lot. They keep you upright, carry the weight of your body and give you the mobility to run a Marathon or just survive your working day. As a new mom, I’m always trying to find ways to make my days a little easier, including a few moments to stretch in the morning, if only for a few minutes. I slip into my favorite Yoga Leggings, put on my most comfortable sports bra and tank top, and breathe through a few stretches that target my feet to prepare them for the constant walking I do every day.
Whether you’re a new parent, a weekend hiker, an occasional hiker, or working on your feet all day, these five Yoga poses can relieve foot and ankle pain and prevent future health-issue.
The cat/cow posture (also called Marjaryasana-Bitilasana) is ideal for strengthening and stretching your spine, as well as for straining your feet and ankles. Start on all fours, slowly around your spine and insert your chin into your chest. In doing so, let the tops of your feet push into your yoga mat and gently stretch your ankles and feet. When moving in the cow posture, bend your spine and look towards the ceiling while squeezing your toes and pushing them into your mat. This grips the soles of the feet and provides a nice stretch. To feel the stretch lower, lift your knees off the mat and float a few centimeters above the floor.
CHANGE IN THE POSTURE OF THE HERO
Also called Virasana, this Pose is a gentle sedentary Asana that offers several body benefits, including stretching and strengthening the thighs, knees, ankles and arch of the foot. To get into the hero’s posture, kneel on the floor (use a block, pillow or blanket stuck between the calves and thigh muscles if your knees need additional support). Bring your inner knees together and spread your feet slightly apart. Turn your big toes to touch each other while gently pressing the top of each foot into your mat. Let your hands rest gently on your thighs. You can stop here when you feel the stretch, but if you want to feel it a little more, sit down slowly, lift your knees and shins off the mat and place your weight on your feet.
DOG CYCLES POINT DOWN
A common basic posture in almost all yoga lessons, the downward-facing dog, also called Adho Mukha Svanasana, provides a full body stretch. You can focus on strengthening and stretching your feet, ankles and calves with a slight Variation: enter the downward dog as usual with feet hip-width apart. Bend your right leg and shift the weight to your right toes while firmly inserting the heel of the opposite foot (left) into your mat. Changing legs; going back and forth five to 10 times.
The tree pose, or Vrksasana, is a floor pose that strengthens several parts of the body, including the ankles and arches. To do this Pose, start standing with your feet together. Lift your right leg up, bend your right knee to the side and push your right foot into your left thigh or shin. When doing this, the left foot is faced with the challenge of maintaining balance by pressing into the floor. If you want to feel the stretch a little stronger, spread your left toes as far apart as possible and bend them towards your body. Change the page.
This Pose, also called Utkatasana, ensures the blood circulation of your knees and ankles while strengthening and stretching your ankles and feet (it can also help give warmth to chronic cold feet). To do this Pose, stand in a mountain pose with your feet hip-width apart. Push your shoulders down and back, raising your arms to the ceiling or directly in front of you. Imagine that you press the four corners of both feet into your mat. When you are ready, slowly shift your weight to the balls of your feet while you squat and lift your heels off the floor.
When performing this stretching sequence, try to hold five to ten breaths in each Pose. Go back if you have to, or deliberately go a little lower to make the Pose more intense when you’re ready.