My stretching routine is based on balance. I’m an expert skier, spent a lot of time around yoga, and trained in karate for 6 years.
I developed my simple ritual when I felt stiffness in my legs and a cramp in my foot. Cramps in your feet can be painful, and one quick tip; if you ever get one while you’re laying down, stand up right away. Standing up will immediately stop it from getting worse.
If you have medical issues, tell your doctor. But if you are like me, sometimes your doctor will say you’re just getting older. I’m 56 …
This is what I do. I want to be tall, not short, as I get older, and to balance well and stay on my feet for as long as possible in this lifetime.
Take your shoes off and stand straight up. Feel the weight across your two feet, left and right, forward and back. Stand, and get used to putting your mind into the bottoms of your feet.
Don’t think about your arms and shoulders, your calves, your back. Just the bottom of your feet.
Try and do nothing except spread your weight across the bottom of your feet evenly, particularly frontward to backward. Once this feels like you have a fine tuning of this balance across your feet, stand straight up.
At this point, if you’re following along, you’re thinking “I was already standing straight up!”
That may be true, but now you’re going to do it in a very different way!
So far, you’re standing up and managing all your body’s weight and balance using hundreds of muscles, big ones and small ones. But you’re only thinking about the bottoms of your feet.
This technique is inspired by downhill skiing.
Every muscle in your body, including your neck, your shoulders, your back, your legs; every single part of your body is reacting when you make the tiniest adjustments across your feet.
If you hired a scientist to tell you what to do with the hundreds of muscles in your body, in order to stand perfectly straight, if it were even possible, that would be so complicated no one would ever do it. But when you just think about it differently, if you focus on balance based on pressure at the bottom of your feet, you can accomplish perfect balance, commanding every muscle in your body to align themselves perfectly, with your mind.
It’s very simple!
Put your weight just a little bit on your toes, and roll a tiny bit to your heels. Feel what happens.
Now, we’re going to the world of yoga.
Balance perfectly across the bottom of your feet and reach straight up; it’s not as easy as it sounds … and suddenly you’ll feel like you engaged 100 more muscles by barely moving.
Your feet didn’t even move an inch.
It’s important you do all of this carefully and thoughtfully, and continue to breathe. Your body weight, when you use it to stretch and build muscles, is much more powerful than you may imagine, and you can easily hurt yourself.
Please be careful and go slow.
Look slowly upward, and reach high … feel every muscle in your body reaching upwards. Only one direction exists, and that is straight up.
Because you, as a beautiful, lovely human organism, have determined exactly when your body is perfectly balanced, tuned in to the bottom of your feet, use this as your baseline for reaching straight up. No expert can tell you when you’re reaching straight up the way your muscles can.
Breathe. Slowly and naturally.
The third thing I do (I told you this was simple!) is … first I stand straight up, then I reach straight up, and then I lean forward a little bit more.
At first I was just getting you to feel your calves stretching when you just lean forward the tiniest bit. Now, with your arms straight up as if your body is stiff as a board, use your ankles as a pivot point and bring that stiff, straight board of a body forward … now your weight will be on your toes, so push your heels down. Have something in front of you that you can gently touch, like a wall.
Calves are stretching …
You’ll find you’re not just stretching your calves, but elongating your entire body.
The stiffening and shortening of the calves over time, due to decreased general activity, is the number one reason why people start to walk like old people, question their own ability to balance, question their own ability to run and do chores, dance and generally challenge themselves, and eventually get shorter and stay that way.
Feel those calves; stretch every muscle in your body … in balance! And, you’ll be taller!
I hope my workout was nice and simple … simple enough that you’ll actually do it!
Sleep well my friends! :)”
Here’s a related article on my blog: