“Walk this way….”
Remember that line from the movie, Young Frankenstein? Marty Feldman, who plays hunchback Igor, is beckoning Gene Wilder (playing Dr. Frankenstein) down a flight of stairs. Gene Wilder then imitates Igor’s hunched-over posture as they head down. Clearly, neither one of them were particularly stellar examples of great posture or mobility at that point.
Having said that, I would like to put in my two cents for how to “Walk this way…”
When we walk, it’s important to have a bit of rotation. Ever notice that you automatically like to swing your arms as you go along? That is your torso moving on top of your hips to counteract the leg motion that is going on under you. When your legs are providing your walking stride, you need good hip, knee, and ankle motion to keep things going smoothly and you in a good upright posture.
To keep things in tip-top form, I am going to give you a great way to mobilize your low back, hips, and ankles. It’s just a few small movements that will reduce tightness in those areas so that those tissues can stay healthy and flexible for you.
But, it comes with a few do’s and don’ts.
First, the don’ts.
- Don’t do this stretch, or any stretch where you bring your knees toward your chest, first thing in the morning. That is when the discs between your vertebrae have more fluid in them from resting overnight. That makes them more vulnerable to shifting when you are in the knee to chest position. Wait at least an hour after rising to give the fluid a chance to equilibrate.
- Don’t do this stretch if you are experiencing low back pain or have sciatica. This move involves flattening the curve in your low back, which may aggravate those conditions.
Now the do’s.
- Put this move into your stretching routine at the end of a workout or warm-up. That way, your tissues are more primed to relax, and YOU are more primed to relax.
- Sometimes, less is more. Keep the movement described here small and slow! Give your body a chance to ease into the rotations. We are not going for a lot of motion. This move is just about releasing tightness in areas where tightness is quite common. So, chill!
Here’s what you do:
Lay on your back on a mat or towel. Bend both legs and bring them toward your chest. Cross your ankles, and bring your knees out to the side. Grab your legs just below your knees. Extend the back of your neck so that gravity can draw it towards the floor (feels good). You will notice that your low back flattens so that the natural curve almost disappears. Relax and just let all this happen!
Keeping everything in this same position, make SMALL circles clockwise, 8-10 times. Guide this movement with your hands/arms so that your low back and hips can stay relaxed. Then make 8-10 small circles counter-clockwise.
Next, adjust slightly so that you can do ANKLE CIRCLES with the leg that is on top of the other. Do 8-10 clockwise circles, and then 8-10 counter-clockwise circles. Change your legs so the other one is on top and do ankle circles with that leg as well.
That’s it! These small moves will help to keep your low back, hips, ankles and even your calves moving well for you. They will be supporting the small rotations that are part of a great walking stride.
That is how you will be able to “Walk this way….” (the right way, that is).
© 2018 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.