Calf Raise Challenge
How about a fun workout challenge??
How strong are your calves? Not, how large and/or tight and “ripped” do they look, but how *strong* are they *really*?
Calf raises. How far forward is your body translating when you raise up onto your toes? Check yourself against a wall (have something to hold onto!) or up to the kitchen counter.
Calf raises are a great way to strengthen not just your calves, but also your feet and ankles. There are so many ways to make them more challenging. Usually, people sway forward quite a bit and use the anterior (front) chain rather than the posterior (back) chain to create the movement. Cheater cheater pumpkin eater 🎃
Using the wall takes that cheat away and all you’re left with is foot/ankle, glute, and core strength. A.K.A. being faced with the truth of your back side.
The first time I tried these I couldn’t raise up a millimeter without holding on. Seriously. It was a gradual progression (mostly due to inconsistency) but the last couple weeks I have worked in a set at the wall each day and now it’s getting much smoother and I no longer have to hold onto anything.
Also, my calves were very unhappy initially. Clearly, I had never used them correctly before. When stationary, you should move basically straight up and down. When walking, calves work in concert with everything else to move you forward. Two different tasks with different demands. Work the isolated strength then move into dynamics and see how much better things feel.
Breathing: Rib Mobility
Yes, it’s simple. Yes, it’s the foundation of basically every function of the human body. Yes, it’s harder than it looks. And, yes, it’s almost always overlooked because of its simplicity; we are already born “knowing” how to do it. Right?
You’d think. But life circumstances often conspire to affect our breathing patterns in myriad ways. Not the least of which is pregnancy and the hormone bomb-drop of the early (i.e. first 12 months) postpartum period.
The good news is we have a *lot* of control over how we breathe. And learning to recognize patterns and their triggers is very valuable information. Manipulating your breathing can prevent/stop/reroute just about any circumstance imaginable. Seriously.
Today, play around with directing your breathing to different areas. Think of, or physically place your hand on, a spot and send it there. It starts out that simple. Can’t do it? Keep creating the intention and keep practicing. You just need to wake up a forgotten skill. Most likely. Barring extenuating circumstances, of course.
Here, I’m playing around with one-sided lateral rib expansion. Fun little party trick! 🤓
I know, I know, there is some lingering upper ab gripping. I am, *we* are, a constant work in progress, should you choose to seek the path of self-improvement. It’s a fun one!
Walking. Seems so innocuous, no? Notice how you walk throughout your day. Feet, arm swing, spine, hips/pelvis, breathing. The whole nine yards.
Here I first demonstrate the gait I see frequently, in women AND men. Lumbar (lower) spine rotates, thoracic (mid-upper back) spine stays still, arms going bananas in an attempt to create forward propulsion.
What we would like to see is some lovely cross body rotation (second demo), with shoulder rotating towards opposite hip as you step forward. A nice, relaxed, fluid motion. Of course, this can take some work to achieve, not the least of which is midback mobility (see my post on this from last August/September). But, in the meantime just notice what you feel and see. This is just a fun little test to see where you are at right now.
One of the things I see most often in women experiencing prolapse and diastasis recti is this lack of cross body rotation and general stiffness. And walking is the quickest way to spy this deficit. Complaints of low back pain are also often accompanied by the stiff upper body and overly-mobile lumbar spine.
The last part is a fun drill to do throughout the day to encourage more rotation. Exaggerate the rotation, and wiggle! Shake those sillies out!
Quick Tip: Sinus Acupressure
It is allergy season folks! And for many of us, that means sinus congestion. I would normally see an awesome acupuncturist for some sinus focused acupuncture but since covid 19 we can’t do such things.
Enter: acupressure self-treatment! I would always get a needle placed between my eyebrows and could feel my sinuses draining, like they were melting. So I looked up acupressure points and found a cool trick to closely mimic my experience of sinus drainage. Try it and see how you do! I do it a few times/day when I feel that telltale pressure. And each time, poof. Pressure gone!
Place tongue in the roof of mouth and press up. Close mouth and breathe deep and slow. Place thumb or finger in space between eyebrows and press somewhat firmly. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
How we breathe directly effects our pelvic floor so I do what I can to make sure my breathing is working *for* me not *against* me.
Way better than allergy meds, but not quite a replacement for a great acupuncturist, of course. Desperate times call for getting creative!
Habit Stack: Crawling
Habit stacking with crawling because...why not?! I have been doing a lot more crawling lately to mix it up, work on serratus strength, core stability, and to keep my brain guessing by introducing novel stimuli every so often. Plus, it’s fun! Double plus, you’re already down on the floor with the kids, so get after it!
My pelvis used to rotate and rock side to side no matter what I tried, but once I stopped my reductionist approach to...everything...and started looking at the whole picture things started falling into place. Enter: the sippy cup. I can keep it standing and as close to motionless as I’ve ever gotten. Hooray!
It’s been good for my brain and body to get creative during this quarantine madness. Play, have fun, mix it up.
Habit Stack: Laundry Squats
Squeeze in your workout Wednesday ! I lovelovelove to stack my habits and my exercise throughout the day. It’s laundry day (wait, with two toddlers isn’t every day laundry day?!) so how about squeezing in some extra squats and hip hinge work?
Runner, lifter of children, PTA, CPT, PCES, pelvic health zealot