5 Reasons to Find, Feel and Use Your Inner Thigh Muscles for Healthy Movement Habits
I picked this title as a topic months ago, and then just a couple of weeks ago offered a “Stretch Class” in the studio that I haven’t taught for about 10 years! It’s been interesting to see and hear my client’s reactions to the parts of their bodies they found and felt in a different way after an hour of active stretching vs. the full range of motion work and release that “stretches” the body during a Pilates workout.
Our bodies were made to move. It’s move it or lose it!
So, the question is – how much are you moving, and how well are your muscles working to keep you healthy?
Every muscle in our body needs to have an adequate amount of both strength and flexibility to function well. When we think about targeting the thighs most of the attention gets placed on the Quads (along the front of the thigh), and the Hamstrings (along the back of the thigh) since these two muscles groups are needed to bend and straighten the knees, help us stand up and sit down, climb stairs, etc…
Articulating the Ankle:
Improving Mobility To Point & Flex Your Feet
Are you searching for the right exercises for healthy feet? Are your calf muscles tight? Do you ever have heel pain? Do you hop around with toe cramps? or arch cramps? Are you plagued with Plantar Fasciitis problems? Are you still searching for foot care solutions that work well for your tired, achy feet?
Healthy Feet and ankles are not just for ballerinas!
Whether you walk, run, dance or just sit behind a desk all day, how much we use, or misuse, our feet can contribute to challenging foot problems and more. Of course if you’re dealing with an acute injury consultation with your doctor or podiatrist should be your first stop. But if you’re trying to find the strategies and solutions that can help get you back to health and keep you poor feet out of trouble, it may be time to pay a little more attention to your ankles, arches and toes on a very regular basis.
How Are You Working: Legs turned Toe-Out, Parallel, or Pigeon?
This article is Part 2 in a 3-part series on Healthy Feet: Heel Mobility for Better Balance & Body Control
Little, seemingly insignificant posture habits can set you up for problems, pain and injury. And what is interesting is the fact that your heels and ankles might not be the weak link that is setting you up for a potential problem. What do I mean by this?
Part of paying attention to leg alignment is knowing what is happening at the feet. A toe-in, parallel or toe-out stance or gait pattern can dramatically change how the feet and ankles work and affect the stress placed on your knees and lower back. As a result of your everyday foot fitness habits, the muscles that are strong or weak in your feet and lower legs can be your own unique posture challenge.
But half of what you need to pay attention to might be the direction of the feet and the other half is what’s happening at the hip.
Use the Standing Agitator Exercise to Free Up Your Feet, Ankles and Heels
Heels and ankles need to be limber and move freely so that they can help us balance on uneven surfaces. Check to see if you have strong, flexible heels and ankles with this quick and easy ankle mobility exercise.
Test your balance by standing on one foot. Do you have a little “play” in your foot and ankle to keep you on balance, or is your ankle stuck/frozen? With good movement through the heel and practicing that agitator exercise in the long run it’s going to help with better balance and healthy mobility for your feet.
The Agitator Exercise
After doing the Agitator Exercise are you more aware of the movement at your ankles and heels? When you started, did you feel “stuck?” If it is hard for you to tell, get with a friend and have them stand behind you while you are “agitating” or twisting, to watch your ankles and heels for movement. Ideally, you want to see (and feel) your feet shifting from the inside of one foot to the outside of the other, and switching sides as you change directions.
For more exercises and tools to improve both ankle strength, and ankle mobility, use a Super Ankles Foot-Fit Board. This is one of the best foot care products available to help keep ensure injury-free ankles.
If you run, walk or play sports this helpful foot care product can help you with ankle strengthening exercises to avoid ankle sprains. If you are recovering from an ankle injury, the Super Ankles Foot Fit Board can be utilized for ankle sprain rehabilitation exercises. (Check with your doctor to be sure you’ve healed and it’s appropriate to begin an ankle rehab program.)
The Super Ankles Foot-Fit Board Bundle comes with an exercise booklet, the Super Ankle Exercise Board, and a How-To DVD with an 8-minute Super Ankle Board Workout.
How tight are the fronts of your thighs, and how effective are your Quad Stretch exercises to help loosen things up and open the hips? Are you taking time to work on your flexibility to help improve your muscle balance?
“True flexibility can be achieved only when all muscles are uniformly developed.”
Joseph H. Pilates
As I was chatting with a gal in my triathlon training program today, she began asking me questions about Pilates, and the difference between Pilates and Yoga. As a triathlete, she made the comment that she runs, bikes, swims, and does some weight training, but had never really worked much on her flexibility, and is now realizing that she needs to do something to improve it. She wondered which would be better to do for improving flexibility – Yoga or Pilates?
Pilates is whole-body-commitment to improve whole-body health for Every Body!
A Pilates workout program is one of the best ways to improve your whole-body health and in a very unique way it can help you get in touch with your body, mind, and spirit. As a mind-body wellness program, Pilates is focused fitness training.
Developed by Joseph H. Pilates in the early 1920′s, it has been used for general fitness, rehabilitation, and to help increase athletic performance. Regardless of your age, or current health and fitness level there is an appropriate place for you to start practicing Pilates.
The Pilates system can enhance many different aspects of a healthy lifestyle, and it’s never too late to improve posture, gain strength, flexibility, and improve your whole-body health!
There are Many Great Benefits to Discover with Pilates:
Better Mental Focus and Improved Concentration
Enhanced Body Awareness and Body Control
Improved Muscle Strength
Increased Muscle Flexibility and Joint
Range of Motion and more…
The Pilates Method is a system of learning how to develop healthy movement habits. If bones of our skeleton are in the right alignment, our muscles can move efficiently to perform any task required. But for most people there is a tendency to have developed dominant and weaker muscles, sometimes this is due to an injury or accident, other times it’s because our work, sport, or daily activities have us doing more with some muscles and less with others. Over time, these imbalances can lead to pain and injury! And long-term might result in chronic poor health. But a good Pilates program can help increase your awareness and help you discover how to make positive changes to improve your health!
Over time, these great benefits and new health and movement habits begin to transfer into other areas of your life! The results are that everything you do can be accomplished with less effort giving you more energy to enjoy life!
There are 2 Main Aspects to an Effective Pilates Training Program:
Pilates Matwork - a series of floor work exercises that require no special equipment.The Matwork exercises can actually be harder to begin with, because you don’t have any assistance to support the body while you’re finding the right muscles to do the work! Because of this, many Pilates teachers will “modify” exercises for beginners until you build the strength and body awareness needed to do things right.
Pilates Equipment Training - specialized equipment developed by Joseph H. Pilates for his exercise system. (The Reformer, Trapeze Table, Wunda Chair, High Chair, Spine Corrector, Ladder Barrel, Small Barrels, Ped-o-Pull, Foot Corrector and other equipment.)Pilates Equipment Training can be done one-on-one, or in a small group class. Individual training is the best place to start if you’ve had any injuries or health conditions that might require special care to help get your exercise program off to a safe start, and it’s always great to know exactly what you need to do just for you to improve your health! The Pilates equipment helps put the body in a low to non-weight bearing position, so there is less stress on your joints and more support to help you develop great strength, flexibility, and whole-body health.
Pilates is a low repetition system. Generally 3-5 repetitions, up to 10 are performed. More is NOT better. Any exercise Done WELL for fewer repetitions means your muscles will remember how to do things right! With each workout, the goal is to strive to execute each exercise and movement better than you did the time before – so you’re always paying attention and working diligently to improve your health.
There are Over 500 Exercises in the Pilates System
So there is always more to learn, discover, and do to challenge and improve your health! And while it is ideal to utilize the whole system, both Matwork and Equipment, for maximum benefits, not every exercise is appropriate for every body, so it’s best to start learning with a well-qualified Pilates teacher who can help develop a program specific to your needs and goals, and to help be sure that you’re doing each exercise correctly to get maximum benefits from your workouts!
Here are three easy hand exercises to help stretch your palms, and improve finger flexibility. Our hand & finger muscles primarily work to grip and grab objects, so these muscles can get tight and cause joint pain in the fingers, hand and wrist. Use these simple hand stretching exercise tips to release muscle tension and improve the mobility and flexibility to keep your hands and fingers pain-free, healthy, and fit.
Here’s an easy exercise for a heart opening chest stretch. Improve flexibility for the chest, arms, & shoulders. Enhance posture for Pilates, fitness, & daily life.
When we think about improving posture and avoiding that hunched over Quasimodo look. It’s important to balance out the upper body by increasing upper back strength (to help hold us vertical,) and stretching the front of the body to open the chest so we can stand up tall. In order to get the best benefits to balance this relationship between the upper back and front of the body, we’ve got to start by opening the chest.
Today’s foot fitness tip is especially important for runners, walkers. It also can benefit people with lower back issues. I’m going to share my “secrets for success” in improving leg, ankle, and foot flexibility with an easy and effective calf stretch. Whether you’re fit with no injuries, or are experiencing back pain, or just have tight lower back muscles from lifestyle habits or vigorous workouts taking the time to stretch your ankles and calf muscles can help keep both your legs and lower back in great shape! Check out this video clip to discover how to get the most from your calf stretch.