When recommending home exercises for clients, I’m often asked, “How often should I do this?”
If it’s an exercise, like a calf stretch that I know makes such a massive difference when practiced regularly, sometimes I reply with “forty or fifty times a day.”
Sounds extreme, I know.
But, here’s the thing, your body adapts to how you use it the most.
If you live a modern lifestyle, there’s a good chance your body has adapted to everyday things, like footwear and chronic sitting.
Take modern footwear. If the shoes you wear the most have an elevated heel, meaning the back of the shoe is higher than the front (even the teensiest-weensiest bit), you’re sending the signal to your body to shorten your calf muscles every time you wear them.
Let’s say you spend eight hours in those shoes every day; that’s eight hours of sending your calf muscles a signal that they need to shorten.
Now, say you take your shoes off but sit frequently; to eat, work on the computer, drive, watch T.V., read, etc.
Sitting also sends a shortening message to your calves.
And finally, say you sleep eight hours each night, you might be surprised to learn that this also sends a shortening signal to your calf muscles.
(Not the sleeping itself, but the sheets and blankets pushing down on the tops of your feet holds the calves in a shortened position.)
None of these things on their own are bad.
It’s the total time spent doing these things that shortens your calves and creates a problem.
Shortened calf muscles have a domino effect throughout the rest of the body by pulling on your spine, influencing pressure on the pelvic floor, and changing how you walk.
And when you think about the amount of time you might be unknowingly shortening these muscles (maybe even close to 24 hours a day!), doing fifty 30-second calf stretches a day seems a bit more reasonable.
Of course, I don’t expect anyone to do the calf stretch forty to fifty times a day, but I hope that maybe they’ll do it three times, or at least once a day.
You’d be amazed by how time spent stretching and moving your feet and lower legs pays off for the rest of your body.
This calf stretch is just one example of how bringing more body awareness to your daily movement habits can help you create real, doable change that positively impacts your overall body.
In this video, you’ll learn one variation of a calf stretch that targets a muscle in your lower leg called the soleus.
Watch it, give it a try, and then tell me how it goes. Post in the comments below the video.
Wishing you lengthened calves and comfortable feet,
P.S. – Registration for my new online program Happy Hip Flexors™—The Whole-Body Approach to Balanced Hips That Move with Ease is closing this Thursday, February 4.
Class begins Monday, February 8.
In this comprehensive program, I’ll give you practices and ideas designed to help you move more throughout the day.
Together, the exercises offer simple ways to move that add up to substantial positive change that will help you feel great in your body.
Register for Happy Hip Flexors™today and I’ll see you in class!