Our feet, ankles and legs are our literal foundation. If they aren’t solid then problems will spread up the chain, causing disfunction everywhere.
Taking Care of the Foundation
I spend a lot of time on my feet — they are my primary mode of transportation. Beyond my active lifestyle, I make sure to complete my 10,000 steps daily. In fact, I just passed my 2-year milestone. That’s 2 years of at least 10,000 steps a day. (More on what I’ve learned from this another time.)
I’ll admit that I probably don’t pause enough to care for my feet and legs. You probably bring in your car for service more often.
So this past week I decided to give my legs some TLC by keeping my walking to a minimum (while still hitting my 10,000 steps, of course) and spending more time foam rolling and doing some restorative poses for my legs.
I found a great leg rehab series at Redefining Strength — a really informative and thorough fitness site that I highly recommend.
I’ve been really focused on my calves, which are a muscle I tend to ignore in my daily stretching.
This can lead to serious injuries.
From the Redefining Strength blog:
If your calves are tight, your foot can pronate when walking or running or even squatting to compensate for the lack of calf flexibility. This can cause more rotation of the lower leg and lead to the patella being slightly misaligned, which can lead to knee pain such as Runner’s Knee.
That doesn’t sound like fun. In fact, I know it’s not fun. Back in my high school days, I had some serious knee problems. After basketball games, I sometimes would find it difficult to stand and walk. Eventually, I stopped playing.
I love being active and I want to stay active for decades to come. I want to keep doing flying trapeze and trampoline and other fun sports. So I focus on how I can make daily activity sustainable.
That requires attention to a category of fitness called restorative fitness.
As explained by LifeFitness Academy:
How can you excel in your favorite activities when your body isn’t communicating properly? No one wants a miscommunication! The body has muscles, tight muscles pull on the spine the spine will come out of alignment and when that happens your body’s communication properties are compromised.
The Unexpected Hard Work
And I have to say, this conditioning work is hard. Not in the OMG that was so intense and I’m so sore the next day.
It’s hard in the opposite way.
As I sit with my calf balanced on a ball placed on a yoga block, making circles with my ankles and pointing and flexing my foot, it feels like I’m doing nothing.
Music plays in my ears, and my mind wanders. It feels like the biggest waste of time.
My internal monologue starts up:
Perhaps I should listen to a podcast or an audiobook. Something that would fill my mind with more information and knowledge, that would keep me on track toward my goals. This is a perfect time for multi-tasking.
Except it’s not. Although it doesn’t feel like I’m doing anything, I know that I am correcting imbalances that can lead to injury.
I am taking care of my physical foundation. What’s more important than that?
Subtle, Not Sweaty
So as I sit on the mat and roll knots out of my calves, as much as it might feel like I’m not “working out,” because I’m not sweating, I must remind myself that this is work.
The important work is often subtle, not sweaty.
Today after trampoline practice I did more rolling. When I came home, I put my legs up to rest them instead of pounding the hot pavement to do errands.
Errands can wait. Right now, I’m doubling down on restoring my foundation.
If you don’t have a solid foundation, nothing else will work.
This is the blog version of Episode 84 of My Circus Life, a weekly livestream broadcast in which I share lessons I learn in my trampoline, flying trapeze, and generally very active lifestyle. Watch the replay here.