Whilst we should be spending time on stretching and releasing foot, ankle and lower leg tension, equally, we should be effectively strengthening this area as well. Now, you may think as runners we will have strong feet, Achilles and calves but this is not always the case… and insufficient strength here can lead to less than optimal running form and painful plantar fasciitus.
The plantar fascia is a dense, fibrous tissue that runs the length of the sole of the foot, that provides stability and arch support. Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of this tissue, caused from excess stress with over-use and lack of protection ie. weakness. Wearing over-supportive shoes is a culprit!
Recent research shows that strength training greatly improves results in plantar fasciitis suffers, compared with only stretching and shoe supports. (Note, I do not promote shoe supports!)
Pain and inflammation in the plantar fascia (PF) can be due to weakness of the intrinsic muscles of the foot, which lie above this fascia. In today’s video I mention ‘strengthening the plantar fascia’, as the PF works so closely with its adjacent muscles – but it’s these small, unknown and neglected muscles that we want to strengthen, we can’t actually strengthen the fascia itself.
In this video I’ll share 3 great ways to strengthen the foot muscles, the big toe, Achilles and calves.
Recently, I did a short video on releasing the feet and low legs, so this is a great one to complement it.
So there you have 3 fairly simple, yet challenging, poses to build strength in the feet, in the big toe which we need for driving off of, in the Achilles so that it’s protected and in the calves.
– foot scrunches on block
– toe balance heel lifts
– high lunge knee tap (lift and drop heel)
How did you get on? Discover anything new or interesting?
Thanks so much for reading and watching!
See you next time,
So, you might know that the piriformis is a fairly small, pretty deep muscle that externally rotates the hip, amongst other roles. It runs from the sacrum to the top of the thigh bone, so is located pretty much in the centre of your butt.
Piriformis syndrome symptoms, of pain and tingling down the leg, occur when an excessively tight piriformis compresses the sciatic nerve. Symptoms can appear similar to sciatica, although they are two different complaints, with sciatica originating up the spine.
This is part 2 of my classes on yoga for piriformis – you don’t need to have done part 1 first but you can find it here.
As always, practice mindfully, staying aware of any current limitations. For example, Pigeon pose which we visit in this class isn’t appropriate if you have any knee pain in the position, or if tightness in the hips prevents you from coming comfortably into the position.
This class is all on the floor and you won’t need any props, other than perhaps a cushion or folded blanket, so grab your mat and give it a try…
In this class we covered:
1. Supta Baddha Konasana pelvic lifts
3. Pigeon lifts.
What was your experience in each of these? I’d love to hear from you, just below!
All my best,
Our IT band is that thick band of fascia that runs from the ilium at the top on the hip, down the outer thigh, and attaches just under the knee to the tibia. As I wrote a few weeks ago, it’s main function is to keep our knees in place when we move, linking them to the pelvis for stability.
You may be aware that many runners suffer with IT Band Syndrome, which often manifests as a horrible burning pain in the outer knee. It’s caused when the connective tissue of the ITB becomes inflammed, when repeatedly irritated against the femoral epicondyal as the knee flexes and extends – which his why this complaint is so rife in runners!
If you suffer with this, there are several things we can do. They are all relatively simple but, as with all worthwhile things, take consistency and commitment 🙂
- Get your running gait checked (ideally on one of our Run Better with Yoga Retreats!). Heel strikers suffer with IT issues more, and usually feel the pain when the heel hits the ground.
- Learning to change to mid foot landing and run with a safer, more efficient technique can take some time and dedication. As you strengthen, release and gain greater awareness of the right areas for good form, you will simultaneously be helping to relieve the ITBS.
- Focus on strengthening the pelvic stabilisers and
- Focus on releasing TFL.
Yoga can do this fantastically, particularly with these few moves, in addition to my other video on this topic last month.
In this video, I’ll show you 3 or 4 ways to help relieve, or keep ITBS, at bay.
It really can be simple to stay injury-free, it just takes awareness and a bit of discipline to create new habits 😉
Did you like this video? Let me know just below!
All my best,
The feet and lower legs are an often overlooked area when it comes to stretching and strengthening – but for runners it’s essential.
In this video I’ll teach you 5 simple poses that will stretch out the soles, ankles and Achilles. Why? Feet are designed to get used a lot, but they’re often kept in shoes that don’t allow for their natural movement. High-heels, and even running shoes with a high sole at the heel, cause contraction in the calves and the arches. Once in a while this is fine, but over time can create an imbalance and injury, such as plantar fasciitus.
Plantar fasciitus can be caused when repetitive movement creates too much stress and tension in the fascia, leading to severe heel pain. So, pre-existing tension in the foot will contribute. The other cause of PF can be lack of strength in the foot, and the wrong shoes – this we’ll cover next month!
If you run a lot, or have a job that requires you to stand for many hours a day, then take care of your feet. Do this class, or similar, regularly.
How do you feet and ankles feel before and after?
If you have plantar fasciitus, then go really slow and probably only part way into these poses. It can help but listen to what feels good and what doesn’t.
All my best, Helen
Write to me, just below 🙂
Piriformis is a small muscle in the centre of the butt, under the glutes. It runs from the sacro-iliac joint to the top of the thigh bone and its function is to externally rotate the hip joint ie. turn the leg outward.
Now, whether you knew it was your piriformis or not, you’ve likely been aware of it – as it has a tendency to get super tight – either from over-use, or under-use!! When it seems like you just can’t win, there are a few things that we can be doing regularly, as part of our yoga practice, to keep on top of it.
In this video I’ll be showing you 3 different exercises and yoga postures, that together, will help to:
→ release tension in the piriformis muscle
→ build strength in the smaller, deeper external hip rotators
If we can recruit the other, smaller muscles to pull their weight, we can take workload off poor piriformis, relieving potential pain.
You might be familiar with Pigeon pose (I’m going to share a great variation on this next month) but it’s certainly not the only – or the best, in my opinion – pose to release piriformis tension. So, in addition to the strength work, this video features a supine figure 4 pose, and a supine Garudasana, that both really effectively provide a stretch to Piriformis, without compromising the knee with body weight.
Always think strength + stretch when trying to treat an area.
The releasing poses should feel good, if intense – any sharp or nervy pain, stop and get it checked out.
Thank you for reading and watching. I’d love to hear from you now – do you enjoy working on this area? I find it’s a love/ hate relationship!
All my best,