Thursday, January 13, 2011

High heels...

...and hamstrings

If you follow me at all on Facebook, you know a few things about me lately.

1. All of my children and 1 of my grandchildren have had birthdays in the last 13 days.

2. My Christmas tree is still up (with the lights turned on).

3. I can't touch my toes.

After polling my FB friends, to find out that the many of them can indeed touch their toes without bending their knees, I started feeling pretty bad. Wondering why I can't if they can...

Well it came to me Tuesday morning when I put on my 3 inch heels and trotted out the door for work. "Maybe wearing heels 75% of the time is having and adverse affect on my muscles."

So of course I decided to do some research and this is what I found:

"Your lower extremity muscles shorten over the years due to repetitive usage and fatigue. They also shorten rapidly due to positional usage, such as wearing high heels.Your calf muscles, hamstrings, and hip flexors all shorten as a result of wearing high heels. This results in an anteriorly rotated pelvis and a lumber spine that is pulled into lordosis (increased spinal curvature). A proper stretching routine is essential to offset the results of wearing high heels."

"In order to help lengthen your hamstrings you can perform an exercise that is often used by horse riders to improve their abilities in dressage.

Stand on a step or staircase and use a handrail for support. Bring your feet back so that your heels over hang the step and you are standing on your toes and the pads behind your toes. Your foot will be half on and half off the step. Now allow your heels to drop downwards by a centimeter or two so that they are lower than the level of the step. You will feel the stretch down the backs of your legs. It is important that you don’t either perform this for too long or so extremely that you damage your tendons. Start off by doing it for a few seconds or so, and increase slowly to 1 minute, then up to 5-10 minutes per day.

Be gentle and only increase the stretch if you can do so comfortably. If you feel any pain or discomfort you must stop immediately. Seek advice from a doctor or physiotherapist if you are in any doubt about doing this exercise. Over time it is likely that you will find your hamstrings are lengthening and this will help you maintain more upright poise."

I discovered that I could not do this my first day in Yoga. I started Yoga because I read that it can help with neck and back pain and boy does it ever! I highly recommend it! As a matter of fact, I dare you to try it if you never have! I bet you'll find that it is not what you expected!

Can you touch your toes?

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