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,
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,
Some of us seem to fall over more often than other runners – years ago, I used to have the occasional tumble, maybe you do too?!
Now, obviously there are rogue factors that we can’t do anything about: someone else falling/ crashing into us, a huge root/ rock that came out of nowhere (more on that below) – but here are the 3 most likely reasons that a runner will fall over, that with the help of yoga, we can over-come.
- Lack of core strength. There it is again, the ‘core’ cropping up in my posts but it really is the key to great running, including staying on your feet! Firstly, a strong torso means we can run with correct alignment and proper technique, making the second point below easy. Secondly, if we do trip on something, having great core strength often means we can recover from the fall before we hit the ground. What to do? All my classes, other that recovery/ Yin, involve core strengthening. But here’s a recent, core targeting video:
- Not picking up the feet. We need to be actively lifting our feet up and back (heels towards butt), as soon as they touch the ground. This ensures that feet are landing in the right place for proper alignment and technique, keeps our cadence around 180 and means we are never ‘shuffling’ and risking tripping over that rogue rock/ branch. We are purposefully lifting our feet and not shuffling or striding forwards, this will prevent the majority of falls from occurring. What to do? Get your technique checked out (perhaps on one of our courses/ retreats), work on core strength and overall posture with yoga and start thinking about lifting the heel behind, not lifting the knees or feet forward.
- Not concentrating on what you’re doing! I love that running can be social – however, you cannot deny that chatting away means a lack of awareness on the task at hand: running efficiently, so that we can run for longer, faster, injury-free!! For the runner with the perfect technique that comes naturally with ease, this is less of an issue but for so many runners, running with proper technique requires focus. Even when correct technique becomes natural, staying mindfully aware of our body and surroundings is going to greatly reduce falls and other injuries. What to do? The gaze should be forward, so that we can see any obstacles ahead, occasionally dropping the gaze down but generally keeping the head upright. The right combination of yoga will help with strength and posture, but also with the ability to become really aware of our own body and surroundings, and to actually help us enjoy the process of the running itself, not just the social aspect 😉
Let us know your experiences in the comments just below!
If you’re interested in ‘running better with yoga’, take a look at our One Day Course, and the Weekend Retreat here.
Healthy feet and lower legs, that are strong and flexible, are absolutely vital for finding your optimal running technique and staying injury free in this area. Don’t let this area be overlooked!
This is a flowing Vinyasa yoga based class that covers all areas, including hamstrings, hips and core, but our main focus is taken to the feet and lower legs. We explore some creative ways to help maintain the stability that the foot should provide, how to maintain a strong, yet flexible Achilles tendon and calves, and stretching the elusive top of the feet and shins 😉
Ideally do this 28 minute class on a non-running day, as much of it is standing sequences but we wind down with some floor based poses and a little myofascial release. Have a tennis ball to hand if possible.
Check out these previous blogposts, if you haven’t already! Yoga for Feet and Yoga for Achilles.