In my last article, I alluded to the problems of “positive” heeled shoes and most of the time I practice what I preach, shoeless at home and at work – and often “barefoot” shoes when I’m not. I’ve also been dancing tango for the past 17 years or so, so my feet and I know our way around a pair of high heels.
Thanks to my Pilates and Yoga Tune Up® practice, I have a some great tools to counteract the damage I do dancing for hours in 3” stilletos. These are also every effective if you have forefoot and shin tightness from running (especially up and down hills and stairs) or even from sitting in chairs too often.
The Shin-Roll Sequence in The Roll Model: A Step-by-Step Guide to Erase Pain, Improve Mobility, and Live Better in Your Body (Jill Miller, 206-209) is a great way to relieve tightness in the extensor digitorum longus (EDL), as well as all of the muscles that are named in the Embody Map section (204).
As Jill suggests in her book, “Sitting Seza with Strap” is both a great check in and stretch for the tops and bottoms of your feet and ankles. If your feet or toes cramp up when you have your weight pressing into the top of your feet – your EDL’s are likely tight.
After the shin rolling, my go-to list of exercises comes straight from the beginning of Jill’s “Friday Class” sequence that I learned in my Level 1 YTU® training.
Dandasana with Ankle Circles
Dandasana with Inversion and Eversion
Barbie Doll Foot
Big Toe/Little Toe Isolation
I like to follow this routine up with some good old barefoot walking, ideally on a sandy beach or some other uneven terrain.
Here’s a video of Jill Miller demonstrating some movements I mentioned above that will help you both strengthen and stretch your EDL’s. If you don’t love sitting on the floor in Dandasana, sit your self up using a couple blankets or bolster to give your hamstrings a break.