A new client of mine is a land surveyor who spends the majority of his time walking properties or standing in town hall vaults researching historical land records. He came to me complaining of difficulty walking up hills and debilitating back pain while standing. In fact, he had curtailed his walking significantly and often had to lie down in record vaults because his back hurt so much. He was taking 6 Aleve a day when I first saw him.

We tried Leg Stretch #1 but his knee wouldn’t straighten. I immediately thought “tight hamstrings,” but the gastrocnemius, the prominent calf muscle, will limit knee extension when it’s tight. Indeed, when I palpated above and below the back of his knee, his calves were crankier than his hamstrings. But there was more to the story (is there ever not more to the story?). Not only were his calves (plantarflexors) tight, but the opposing muscle—his tibialis anterior, which lifts the toes (dorsiflexes the ankle) was weak and restricted. All three of these muscles are incredibly important for walking hills due to the  massive dorsiflexion required to step up an incline and strong plantar flexion required on the push off.

I gave him Sitting Seza for homework. He complained vociferously, but in just a few weeks, he was off the Aleve, on the hills, and off the vault floors.

See the attached Yoga Tune Up® video (Sitting Seza) for this great lower leg stretch. It’s also on the 5 Minute Quick Fix for Feet and Ankles with other great lower leg work.

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Christine Jablonski

I believe most people who end up in the fitness profession are trying to heal themselves. Fifteen years ago I sought out SPIN to rehabilitate a full knee reconstruction. Ten years ago I started Pilates to help me recover from a horseback riding accident. More recently, as still-young age and old injuries caught up with me, I began a restorative and Kripalu yoga practice. In every instance, with every discipline, I've experienced a moment of “ahhh....I want to make everyone feel this good.” And so began my path toward fitness studio ownership where I could keep my classes small and focused on my client's journeys from injury, through healing, and on to strength. In addition to figuring out how my clients and I could feel even better (as well as look better in our jeans), curiosity about human biomechanics led me to study with Helena Collins of Life in Synergy, Sadie Nardini of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, and of course, Jill Miller. Combing the knowledge from these tremendous teachers with my strong Pilates background has enabled me to create exceptionally effective programs for my clients, who range from joint replacement patients needing post-physical therapy help to the “uninjured” wanting stronger, better aligned bodies so they can experience life to the fullest.

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Kathryn Featherstone

I have done these toe stretches many times but not with the strap – that was the TSN turning point for me – FOCUSING into the big toe and really took this stretch to the next level for me – my feet and ankles were so much happier and I will be sure to share this with my friends that work in high heel shoes too

Allison Sorokin

I have been working on this personally and while its still intense, I can see it getting a little easier. To regress this pose I suppose one can eliminate the strap while keeping the legs as close as possible? Say for someone who is overweight or not too keen on using the strap around their ankles. I like that you used palpatation to evaluate his calves. I have found that sometimes people who have had chronically tight calves don’t even know it because they have never knew any other way!

Kati

I know I spend way too little time working on my feet and ankles. I tried the Sitting Seza, and it was excruciating at first… highlighting my lack of attention to this area. But it was a very noticeable improvement in mobility after just a few minutes of practice! Thanks for sharing!

Charlene Lowe

Thank you for sharing your wisdom. This works great for a client of mine that does trail running who has similar woes.