Your legs and feet take a beating this time of year, as nonstop appointments leave little time for self-care. These quick, easy stretches can help you find relief, especially during the busy season.
Ankle Inversion and Eversion
Sitting with one or both legs outstretched, grasp your foot firmly with both hands and gently twist it toward you, inverting the foot. Hold it for 2 seconds before releasing and repeating. Now, from the same start position, grasp the foot firmly with both hands and gently twist your foot away from you, everting it. And the end range of the stretch, hold for 2 seconds, release, and repeat.
Sitting with your legs in front of you, reach forward and firmly grasp the ball of the foot and toes and gently pull them straight back toward you, while the knee is as comfortably straight as possible, and the heel remains in place. Assist the stretch at the end range, hold for 2 seconds, release, and repeat.
Laying on the floor, with knees bent, grasp your calf and straighten your leg from the knee, bringing it toward your head. Return the leg to a bent knee for its starting position. At the end of the range of the movement, use your hands to assist the stretch a little further, and hold for 2 seconds before releasing. Repeat.
To stretch the belly of the hamstring muscle, start in the same position as the bent-knee hamstring stretch, but keep your leg straight from beginning to end. Use your hands to catch the lower leg, assist the stretch a little further, hold for 2 seconds, and then release. Repeat.
The Ball and Foot Exercise
To relieve overly tight foot muscles, and to deal with issues like plantar fasciitis, try rolling your achy feet over a tennis ball or golf ball to relieve the pain. Rolling from the toes to the heel of your foot, use these tools as ways to loosen the tight and inflamed fascia. A golf ball will deliver a more targeted effort, while a tennis ball is a little gentler. For even more relief, freeze golf balls before using.
Foam Roll It Away
To stretch and lengthen a tight iliotibial band (ITB), consider using a foam roller, or other similar tool along this muscle to open up the whole chain—from hip to ankle. The use of foam rollers improves mobility and flexibility, and also breaks up scar tissue and adhesions. When using a foam roller, focus on your body, and slowly work the areas of pain and discomfort. Don’t make it a speed race to get through this exercise. Take your time and do it right.
This essential oil is a great post-workout remedy for muscle aches. Lavender’s analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties make it extremely effective in soothing low-back pain, strains, and sprains.