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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