Happy Friday guys!
Today’s Fit Tip was inspired by the BodyFlow class I taught this morning. If you don’t know, BodyFlow is a hybrid of tai chi, yoga, and Pilates set to beautiful, contemporary music by artists like the Broods, Ingrid Michaelson, Maroon 5, Sia, and George Ezra to name a few featured on recent releases. The main focus is on building strength, flexibility and balance.
I think often we’re all so hyper-focused on strength and cardio, that we fail to recognize the importance of flexibility and balance. The latter is of the utmost important as we age. In basic day-to-day activities (putting away dishes, walking, getting dressed, stepping in and out of the bathtub, etc.), as well as keeping density in our bones, and maintaining mobility in our joints, we depend on our balance and flexibility to complete these tasks.
The foot is made up of several small parts, including 26 bones, extensors which allow us to balance on one foot and walk with a swing in our gait, and flexors that help us to walk on our tiptoes or stabilize if we begin to slip on some ice.
It’s a lot of work for such little muscles! And since our focus is often on the larger muscles (think quads, butt, and arms) that we can neglect the little ones that help us to keep proper form, prevent injury, and recover more quickly from HIIT type workouts.
The good news is we can strengthen these micro-muscles through various yoga poses, and ballet movements. It’s so simple too! You don’t need a gym, nor a personal trainer, and you don’t even need YouTube or streaming video.
Simply stand up!
Below are a few poses and gentle movements you can try to increase your balance.
I’m focusing specifically on foot and ankle strength today, but please know that a lot of balance is core strength. Tightening the belly, squeezing your butt, and keeping your shoulders back and chest open and proud help these simple balances become a full body workout!
If you’re a beginner, feel free to stand close to a wall or countertop to help with your balance. Otherwise, these moves can be done in the middle of the kitchen or living room.
1. Standing up with your feet close together, begin to slowly lift your heels off the floor. Arms can either remain comfortably at your side, or you can lift them overhead for a bigger core challenge. Hold as you count to 10, and then slowly lower your heels to the floor. Repeat 5 more times. As you feel stronger, hold for longer and lessen the amount of reps.
2. Opening your feet wider than your hips, bend both your knees. Keep chest up and knees open. Look down to make sure your knees are directly over your ankles. Lift up your left heel and slowly pulse up an inch and down an inch for 10. Lower your left heel. Repeat on the right. Optional: Repeat again with BOTH heels up.
3. Tree pose! I love this pose. Putting all your weight in your left leg, place the sole of your right foot on either your calf (toe can touch the floor, if you’re a beginner) or on your inner thigh. Just be sure to avoid your knee. When you have your preferred placement, bring your arms either out to the side like a ‘T’ or overhead. Hold for as long as you can. Repeat on the other side.
Simple, right?! There’s a million other ways to build balance but this will at least get you started. In the comments section below, let me know if you’ve tried it, and where you tried it! And be sure to check me out on Periscope (@belowthefork) and Instagram (@belowthefork).
Have a great weekend!