How often do you think about your calves? If you’re like most people, not often. They are just kind of…there. But ignoring tightness in your calves can be a big mistake.
Tight calves cause improper alignment of our feet when walking
When we don’t have the flexibility to walk with our feet forward, we tend to stand and walk with our feet turned out. That causes our hip muscles to support us improperly, which can lead us to have bad posture in our back and upper body.
Yikes! That will create pain in our neck, back, shoulders, hips, feet….everywhere!
So as you can see, stretching your calves is really important. Today’s exercise is called a Walldrop and it will only take 5 minutes. The best part? You get to just stand still during the move and feel good!
Why do we hold it for so long? For a few reasons. First, to adequately stretch the calves, and second, to retrain the brain to stand backwards in a proper vertical position.
Often, posture problems stem from the body not being in a solid vertical alignment.
If you’re leaning forward or backwards, that can create undue pressure in muscles not designed to hold the body upright. Did you know that this exercise can also reduce incidence of neck pain? Again, this vertical position is critical to how we hold our upper back, and if it’s out of alignment the neck muscles end up taking on too much responsibility causing tightness and pain.
In addition, the longer we hold this position while relaxed and breathing deeply, we allow other possible misalignments to adjust such as internally rotated femurs (when the knees turn in) and posterior pelvic tilts (when the pelvis is tucked under).
For this exercise you will use a slant board. Don’t worry, if you don’t have one you can totally hack it. Grab a cutting board from your kitchen and rest it against a yoga block (or book) and you’re all set.
Step 1: Put the slant board against the wall and get on it and stand on it with your back to the wall.
Step 2: Place your feet exactly parallel to each other, about a fist width apart. You want your glutes and upper back against the wall. The head can touch the wall if it’s easy and possible. If you place your head against the wall and you find that you are straining your neck up or down, then let the head float off the wall a few inches, and eventually your head will get back the more frequently you do this exercise. The lower back will not touch the wall because of the natural arch. Keep your hands by the side with your palms facing the body.
Step 3: Relax the abs, relax throughout your body.
Step 4: Breathe in this position for 5 minutes.
Not only will this let your calves stretch, we will be getting breath through our body which can also improve circulation and energy.
It feels really good and it’s really easy to do!
Are you able to hold this stretch for the full 5 minutes? Sometimes it takes a few tries to build up to this length of time. Give it a try and drop a comment below letting me know how it felt.
I assign this exercise to clients in my Custom Posture Therapy sessions. If you’re looking for a daily routine customized specifically just for your posture deviations… this is the best solution to help you get to the root cause of your posture pain.