Start Your Day on the Right Foot
Start Your Day on the Right Foot
When you first get out of bed in the morning, you may not step lightly and easily into your day. If your body welcomes you with aches and pains, it may be that the cells of an often overlooked system of your body need attention. Here is one way to begin to ease those pains.
You know about your bones, you certainly have a sense of your muscles, and chances are, you notice when your body is operating at a high level and when it is not. You probably notice when you aren’t staying hydrated by your energy levels and other cues. There is, however, a deeper level of dehydration that happens, one that isn’t remedied by any amount of water you drink.
There is a system of connective tissue called fascia that runs throughout your entire body, giving it support, structure and stability. When your fascia becomes dehydrated, which it does through the course of your day, regardless of how you stretch, eat, or exercise, it stiffens. With a loss of elasticity, the fascia is no longer able to interact with your muscles the way it is designed to, leaving those muscles prone to injury, pain, and inefficient movement.
One way to rehydrate your fascia, ideally before doing any morning stretching routine, is to incorporate a series of movements designed by Sue Hitzmann, an exercise physiologist who created the Melt method. Hitzmann recommends starting your day with a short treatment focusing on your feet. Since your fascia is a complete system, what you do in one area of the body will transfer benefits to other areas as well.
- Assess: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Close your eyes and notice your feet. Pay attention to how your weight is distributed, both sides to side and within each foot. Notice any places of tension within the feet. Move your attention up your legs, noticing again how your weight is distributed, and whether you feel like you are using a lot of muscular strength to stand.
- Position Point Pressing: Step one foot onto a soft ball (about the size of a ping pong ball) in the center of your foot. Gently shift your weight 2 or 3 times on and off that foot, keeping the pressure pain free. Shift weight onto the ball and take a full deep breath. Move the ball just in front of the heel and take another deep breath.
- Glide: Keep your toes connected to the ground and slide your heel from side to side, moving the ball to the back of the heel and then return it to just in front of the heel.
- Shear: Keeping the ball just in front of the heel, apply a little more pressure and move the foot from side to side, (the ball should barely move), then press down and hold for two full breaths.
- Rinse: Start with the ball at the base your-your big toe. Press down and move the ball to the back of your foot, and then remove the pressure to move the ball to the base of the next toe. Repeat, starting at the base of each toe and moving toward the heel with consistent pressure.
- Friction: With light pressure, move the ball quickly and randomly under the foot and toes for 10-15 seconds.
- Re-asses: Stand with both feet on the ground, hip-width apart, and notice the difference between each foot, and then between each leg.
- Repeat the entire series on the other foot.
- Final reassess: Stand again with feet hip width, close your eyes, and notice how your feet feel, and scan up your legs, feeling your joints, noticing how your muscles feel.
This short sequence will begin to undo the damage that everyday life wreaks on your fascia. Try it a few times a week and you may begin to wake with a bit more spring in your step, or at least a little less pain.