STRETCH & REST CARE for the wellness warrior
I'm sure you've heard about how to exercise your core muscles in your trunk area but did you know you’ve got a foot core too?
We’ve got 4 layers of muscles in feet- i.e. the intrinsic muscles. 4 layers!!! Doesn’t seem like there is enough room, does it?
Most of the time you only hear about the plantar fascia (connective tissue) as it gets all the attention when it’s flared up, i.e. plantar fasciitis.
They may not be as vocal when you’ve got a foot injury, but the foot intrinsic muscles are important too. They make up your foot core and help provide stability of the arch and control toe movements. They play a huge role in functional movements and by helping with your balance and posture.
It's very easy for them to be weak or even turned off due to tight spots in your calf and foot fascia. They LOVE to be lazy when you’re wearing cushy shoes (all that cushion in our shoes helps with impact on our joints but encourages our foot core to not work very hard).
So how about we give them some love in honor of Valentine’s day?
1. DO A FOOT CORE CHECKUP.
You probably know if you have a high arch, low arch or no arch but let’s see how your foot core muscles are doing. This might be easiest to do in front of a mirror where you can see your foot vs trying to look down at your foot. Or you could video and look at it after you do the moves.
Stand on one leg. Hold onto a counter, wall or chair if needed to but with as little support as possible. Don’t lock out your knee- keep a soft knee.
What do you see going on in the foot your standing on?
Is there any flickering going on in the top of your foot tendons or any movement side to side from trying to keep from falling over?
Or is your foot like a flat pancake on the floor with no arch? Or maybe it’s like a dead fish- limp, no life?
Are your toes holding on for dear life to the floor, so you don’t fall over?
How does it feel?
Does it hurt to stand on one foot?
Are you wondering where the floor is?
Is it hard to balance? Are your hips working hard moving side to side to keep you upright?
No judgment just look and feel what’s going on or not going on.
What happens if you bend your knee slightly? Any changes?
Now check out the other foot. Go through same questions and then compare to other foot.
Flat arches, no signs of muscle activity on top of your foot, difficulty balancing and/or your toes flexed and trying to grip on the floor are signs your foot core muscles need some attention.
One foot core may be having more issues than the other one. It'll depend on which hand you are dominant and what kind of activities you do each day. Also if you've had any injuries on one side. It doesn't matter, both sides probably need attention.
2. GIVE YOUR FOOT CORE SOME LOVE.
Massage your foot core:
Self-Massage on the bottom of your feet with your hands or massage tools will help release trigger points (tender spots). Keep it simple and use a tennis ball, racket ball or even dog toy if you don’t want to buy a massage tool. Roll back and forth from the ball of your foot to the heel or find tender spots to hold pressure on for a few breaths then move to another tender spot.
You can do foot massage in sitting or standing. Sitting is less intense than standing. Massage the bottom of your foot as described to get to the foot core muscles. You can gently massage the top of your foot with your hands but the top (dorsum) of your foot is more sensitive and more bony.
If your foot is flared up, you can do ice massage by rolling back and forth on the bottom of your with a frozen water bottle for several minutes.
An added bonus to massaging your feet is that the bottom of your foot has acupressure spots for every organ in your body. When you massage your foot, you’re sending calming signals to your whole body.
Stretch your foot core:
Stretching the tight spots in your toes, ankles, and calves in sitting or standing can help your foot core turn on.
Strengthen your foot core:
Full body and barefoot workouts like Yoga or Pilates will help strengthen your foot core.
Challenge your foot core:
Pilates Reformer work, unstable surfaces (like Bosu ball or foam surfaces) and doing band work resistance exercises barefoot are some of my favorite ways to challenge the foot core.
Support your foot core:
Good arch support will help keep your foot in good alignment which helps your foot core turn on properly. You might need some extra arch support if you have very flat feet or high arches, stand a lot each day, or do an impact sport like running. It could be a simple over the counter foam insert to a custom orthotic.
Typically, the liner that comes in your shoe is crap. You’re not looking for a huge build up under the arch. Just a little arch support so it’s not completely collapsed, and you aren’t getting pain in your feet or knees with activities. You can learn from a health professional how to use kinesiotape to calm down foot pain if you get flare ups and support your arch but it’s important to also strengthen your foot core to help avoid foot injuries.
3. DO A RECHECK.
If you try any of the above foot care tips, recheck to see how your foot core is doing. Stand again on one leg and see what’s going on down there.
Do you see more activity on the top of your foot, have better balance and/or a little bit of arch activity where there is some space between your foot and the floor?
How does it feel? Hopefully you’ll feel more contact with the floor and more grounded or stable overall.
Even though your feet are at the end of the line, they’re the first body part in contact with the ground which then causes a chain reaction up the leg and into your trunk muscles. They need just as much love as the rest of your body. Just a few mini moves for the foot core make a big difference in your posture and balance.
Give your foot core some love each day!
Want more tips on how to check your form? Here's a Fit Blog that'll help.
Want more massage tools & stretch routines to support and challenge your foot core (and hip core) We’ll show you how in HIP Camp™.
How are your feet doing? If they aren't feeling healthy & happy, it’s always good to check in on any shoes that you use regularly or that have foam soles. Whether you wear them or not, the foam in your shoes gets more dense and compresses over time.
Don’t wait until your feet hurt to do a shoe checkup.
Have they lived their best life? Are the soles worn out? Is the fabric stretched out? Are your feet hurting at the end of the day or after workouts? Do your knees or back hurt more lately?
If so, they're all signs it might be time to get a new pair.
Before you pick out a pair because of the color or cuteness, here are some shoe shopping tips to consider that’ll help prevent injury and give your foot muscles the love they deserve.
What’s your first impression after putting on the shoes? Don’t play mind games with yourself by telling yourself that you need to wear them in for that seam cutting into your pinky toe to go away.
It doesn’t matter how cute they are, if anything feels uncomfortable or off when you first put them on... you need to move on.
If they pass the first impression test, move around in them to double check your foot and heel stay in place. Stand on one leg. Jump. Walk or run a few steps. Turn and stop quickly.
Still feel good without any slipping or sliding going on? You may have a keeper.
You're aiming for just enough support for your arch and the activity you will be doing. The more impact your activity, the more cushion you will likely need from your shoe.
Caution: Be careful with the barefoot or minimal arch shoe styles, especially if you run. I love to workout barefoot to help turn on all my foot muscles but it’s super easy to injure yourself if you run or lift weights with shoes that have minimal arch support. I’ve done it a few times and it can take months to heal foot injuries. If you have a pair, you must wean into them and they aren’t meant to be worn all day. Change it up and/or take a break if you feel your foot muscles getting tired or cramping when using a minimal arch support style shoe.
Make sure you’ve got the right tread on the bottom for what you’ll be doing. Rocky terrain requires a different level of traction than smooth pavement.
If you’re committed to a green lifestyle, take the time to investigate where your shoe parts and packaging come from and whether the shipping does or does not support the planet. Here are two companies to consider:
- Upper in Alveomesh (100% recycled plastic bottles). Alveomesh is a technical fabric made exclusively from recycled plastic bottles. It brings breathability, flexibility and lightness to the shoe.
- Pannels in suede & leather
- Side V Logo in Rubber and Rice Waste (23%)
- Organic cotton laces (100%)
- Midsole made from sugar cane (53%)
- Glued outsole made of Amazon rubber (12%) & rice waste (30%)
- Sugarcane insole, Amazon rubber, recycled E.V.A. & organic cotton
- Tech inner lining (100% recycled plastic bottles) developed to acquire a better resistance to friction and provide maximum comfort and flexibility thanks to its mesh structure.
It’s actually fun to see how creative these companies are getting with recycling and athletic gear. The Veja shoe listed above is super cute too.
OK, time to go check your shoes and get to shopping.
To Happy, Healthy Feet!
P.S. Ready to have a calm, strong, well-rested body? Our online bodywork camps will not only help you Move With Ease but every camp sale supports an organization that improves the health & welfare of animals and wild life like the Beagle Freedom Project & Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Woohoo, it’s almost time to ring in 2022! Always an exciting time to push reset and have a fresh start.
We are more committed than ever to helping you move better to feel better and showing you how to rest more so you can heal more. Your body. Others. The Planet.
This poem by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes sums up perfectly the bodywork adventure ahead that we hope you will continue to join us on.
We do not become healers.
Let’s stretch to bring back the spring.
Let’s rest to bring out the bliss.
Let’s remember who we truly are and move forward together on this bodywork adventure to have more energy, ease, and flow each day.
We believe Rested, Healthy Healers, Leaders, & Creators will heal the planet.
Wishing you a Joyful, Playful & Restful New Year!
Mollie & Ender
Team Core Power
P.S. Our online bodywork camps will help you a Calm, Strong, Well-Rested Body (from the comfort of your home). Learn more here.
It’s time to move it. Move your body. Let’s face it, there’s still a ton of chaos going on in our lives. One way to release all that energy you can’t help but absorb is to move your body.
Sometimes we need to move our body to get an energy boost, but the prescription we need right now is to move our body in ways that release energy.
Here are 4 MOVES to release all the anxious energy you’ve got trapped in your body. They will all help you feel more calm, centered, and confident.
Summary: Pick one move or try them all. You may have days when you need to throw everything at it to get back in your body (i.e. more centered and calm) so you can carry on.
All is Well!
How’s it going using the Head To Toe Posture Checklist to turn on your core during workouts?
Are you more aware of how to reset your posture during your day?
One way to feel and get your core stabilizer muscles working is to hold a small ball or towel roll between your inner thighs as you run through the posture checklist or during your core exercises like when doing a basic abdominal crunch, hip bridge, plank or pushup.
If you’re ready for more of a challenge to your core, then it’s time to practice doing these posture cues while doing a mind body workout like Pilates.
Pilates exercises are some of the most powerful for strengthening AND stretching your core to improve your posture and performance.
Done right, you’ll walk out of your Pilates session a different person than going in. You’ll feel taller, calmer, centered... EMPOWERED.
Pilates is an art form like martial arts or dance. Knowing the history and purpose behind the exercises will help you experience the full benefits of it.
Just like dance, the more you practice Pilates, the more you perfect it and it becomes a lifestyle.
The first step is learning the movement pattern for each exercise then you progress to focusing on your form from head to toe while executing each exercise.
The goal is to eventually become your own coach. You can’t do that without having a good instructor to help you learn how each exercise should feel in your body.
Here are some resources to help you make sure you are getting the most out of your Pilates workouts and not just going through the motions:
Getting started and the benefits of Pilates
How to find a great Pilates Studio & Instructor
How to pick your first class & understand the most common Pilates cues
There is no better time than the present to introduce (or reintroduce) your body to the Pilates world.
I love that Pilates can be modified to be more gentle or challenging depending on what your body needs. I’ve used it with all ages and abilities.
When you stick with it, it becomes a lifestyle. It’s addictive 😊 but a healthy one.
Hope you're staying cool & enjoying some summer fun so far. Summer is a great time to check in on how we are doing with our green, healthy living habits to support nature and the planet.
Here are 5 tips to help you have a green, clean, healthy body & home while you help save the planet.
1. Look for businesses that are Certified B Corporations™: B Corps are for profit businesses that commit to balance both profit and purpose. These brands meet legal standards to consider not only the needs of their customer and employees in their decision making but also the environment and larger global community.
2. Look for the BUNNY LABEL to find brands that don’t do testing on animals. Download the cruelty cutter app to make it easier to shop cruelty free.
3. GROCERY SHOPPING:
4. HOUSEHOLD GOODS:
5. CAMPS WITH A CAUSE: our online bodywork camps will not only help you have a strong, calm, well-rested body but every camp sale supports an organization that improves the health & welfare of animals and wild life like the Beagle Freedom Project & Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
Remember it all adds up. Mini moves & baby steps to have a healthier body and lifestyle. The brands you chose matter for not only you and your home but our planet.
Go More Green!
P.S. More scoop on 2 of my favorite Animal Rescue & Rehab organizations that we support with every online camp sale.
Beagle Freedom Project is a non-profit animal rescue and advocacy organization and the world’s leading organization for rescuing and rehoming animals used in experimental research. Since 2010 the charity has been freeing survivors from laboratory experiments, senior and special needs animals from shelters, and victims of horrific abuse from around the world. FYI Beagles are the most tested on dogs, particularly in the cosmetic and beauty industry, due to their gentle nature. Remember look for the bunny label or use the cruelty cutter app to shop.
Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescues & rehabs orphaned elephants, rhino’s & wildlife in Kenya to return them healthy to the wild as well as securing habitats for future generations, providing fresh water relief, vet rescue units and my favorite- their canine project using dogs to sniff out wildlife crime.
*denotes affiliate link
Before you jump into your core workouts, try these moves to help turn on your core and maximize your results.
OPEN UP YOUR HIPS: tight hips can make it harder to contract the pelvic floor muscles (the base of your core). In fact, tight hips can pretty much turn off your pelvic floor. Stretch the front and back of your hips with a runner’s lunge and full squat to prep for a core workout.
WARM UP YOUR SPINE: The Baby Get Up is one of our favorites for warming up your spine and turning on your core before a workout.
CHECK YOUR FORM: Use this Head To Toe Posture Checklist to turn on your deep core stabilizer muscles and reset your posture during workouts. Be mindful of these spots for better form and check in frequently from head to toe that you’ve got yourself lined up during your core workouts.
Here is the Head To Toe Posture Checklist and posture cues to become familiar with and the video to walk you through the following spots.
HEAD TO TOE POSTURE CHECKLIST VIDEO
Becoming mindful of these key spots from head to toe during your core, Pilates or Yoga workouts will help you improve your posture overtime. Using good form during your workouts WILL carry over into your day.
You can take these posture cues out of the gym or off the mat to help reset your posture anytime during your day.
Better posture equals more confidence, better performance, and decreased risk for injury. You’ll walk, run, bike, row, and move better.
Prep, Reset, Reshape!
P.S. Download the Head To Toe Posture Checklist Video to reset your posture during your day.
Exciting news! Mini Massage Camp™ is ready to roll. You'll find details below. But first, let's talk about pain down there.
This is Part 3 of the Pelvic Floor Series to help you have a strong, healthy pelvic floor for better core workouts, posture and performance.
We've addressed how to do a proper Kegel exercise (part 1) and how to trouble shoot the more common mistakes of the Kegel (part 2).
Now let's talk about what you can do to address pain or injuries to the pelvic floor muscles.
Pain anywhere in your body can turn off the muscle that is inflamed or hurting.
Your pelvic floor muscles can be injured just like any muscle resulting in painful scars and trigger points, weakness, or soft tissue restrictions.
Damage to these muscles can occur due to:
Injuries to the pelvic floor muscles can lead to pain or decreased sensation with sex, incontinence (leaking of urine or bowel), or organ prolapse (bladder, uterus or rectum drops lower). Fortunately there are treatment options to help rehab the pelvic floor after injury:
All of these rehab techniques can be done externally (in the pelvic, lower abdominal and back region) or internally (through the vagina or anus). Let’s break this down more.
External Pelvic Floor Rehab addresses pain from an outside approach. A Physical Therapist, especially one experienced with manual therapy and Pilates Rehab, will have the skills to provide exercise and treatment to stretch, strengthen, and release adhesions in the muscles around the hips, pelvis, and core.
Pilates Rehab with pelvic floor retraining is how I healed from a back injury that almost caused me to retire from PT in my 20's. I still use the exercises along with fascial bodywork tools to help my pelvic floor and core stay healthy and pain-free. These are the techniques I have taught my clients for years, many who had pelvic floor dysfunction or back pain, and now teach in my online camps.
Internal Pelvic Floor Rehab addresses pain from an inside approach. These specialists are certified to work internally on the pelvic floor muscles to stretch, strengthen and relax muscles in the lower pelvis. They're usually Physical Therapists or Nurse Practitioners with advanced training in this area. They can do manual therapy internally to release restrictions, biofeedback training to help strengthen, guide vaginal weight training for prolapse (i.e. vaginal pessary training), and design an exercise program to address your specific needs.
If you've had an injury to your pelvic floor muscles that has resulted in pain, scarring or incontinence (leaking of urine or bowel), reach out to your OB/GYN, Urologist, or Midwife for a referral to a Pelvic Floor Specialist in your area.
Internal pelvic floor rehab is a treatment to consider for decreased sensation or pain during sex as well. If you experience painful orgasms (dysorgasmia), this Mind Body Green article has 17 treatment and tips that you might find helpful.
If these more conservative approaches listed here don't help, there are medications and surgical options available. In addition, acupuncture or lifestyle changes for weight loss may be beneficial.
These issues can be debilitating but are treatable. Don’t give up. Keep searching for someone to help you with your issue.
It's never too late!
P.S. Ready to have more freedom & flow in less than 10 minutes a day? You’ll want to check out Mini Massage Camp™! Learn more.
It's time for more Kegel talk. A simple movement that can turn complicated quickly.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll be troubleshooting some of the more common Kegel mistakes to help you have a strong, healthy pelvic floor for better core workouts, posture, and performance.
One of the most neglected areas of the body and least talked about until you’ve got an issue down there, is how to have a healthy pelvic floor (PF).
The pelvic floor muscles are important for all ages but can need more attention as you age. They form the base of your core and support all your organs.
The Kegel exercise is the basic way to strengthen them. We reviewed how to do a proper Kegel in this blog post.
Here’s the challenge of the Kegel...
A proper Kegel is done when you can contract the PF without the rest of your body tensing up.
Easier said than done, especially when you start moving your body while you Kegel.
Let’s do some troubleshooting on how to avoid the more common mistakes when you Kegel.
Do a check in while you Kegel. Are you?
Here are some tips to prep for the Kegel and take the tension out of your body:
OTHER AREAS TO ADDRESS FOR A HEALTHY PELVIC FLOOR
A few other issues you’ll want to pay attention to as you improve the overall health of your Pelvic Floor Muscles:
Pelvic Floor & Constipation
Constipation and doing the Valsalva maneuver (holding breath and bearing down when lifting or pooping) can over stretch the PF muscles. Improving the health of your gut can take pressure off your PF muscles that have the job of holding up your organs.
Do you have any GI issues? 1 in 4 Americans do. You could have up to 15 # of mucus from inflammation in your gut. Signs are painful joints, bulging belly, bloating. All that puts load on your PF muscles.
You can decrease inflammation through clean eating with lots of green veggies, eliminating foods that irritate (dairy, refined sugar, gluten), staying well hydrated, doing a quarterly detox/cleanse, taking probiotics and exercising regularly.
You might also want to check out The Squatty Potty™, a toilet stool that puts your body in the best posture for pooping to take pressure off your PF.
Pelvic Floor & Hormones
If you identify as female and still bleed monthly, you might notice that it’s easier to do Kegels during the middle of your cycle and more difficult at the beginning of it due to hormone changes. Just keep at it but be mindful of your cycle and plan your more intense workouts toward the middle of it when your pelvic floor muscles might be at their best.
Pelvic Floor & Fatigue
The pelvic floor muscles can fluctuate in endurance just like any muscle. Sometimes you can turn them on but not keep them on because of fatigue. Or you may notice you can turn them on with bladder empty but not with weight of full bladder (or when constipated). The weight of your organs may challenge the PF when tired. That’s OK – you just need to build your strength and endurance like you would any other muscle.
For strengthening, use the weight of gravity to challenge your PF. Example: going from laying down to sitting to standing to moving your body as you Kegel. Each position has to deal with more and more gravity.
For endurance, add reps throughout the day to challenge your PF. Once you can do a proper Kegel in sitting, you can practice anytime throughout the day to build endurance- while driving, watching TV, standing in line. The more complicated the activity you are doing, the more challenging it will be to hold the Kegel and breathe.
The more mindful you can be of your form while holding your Kegel, will help guide you on when to challenge yourself with more gravity or moving your body.
When you can’t hold the Kegel without tensing up in a position, you may have pushed too fast or done too many reps in that position. Listen to your body. It’ll guide you. You'll know when you need a rest break or it's time to slow down.
You've got this!
Got tight hips? No problem, we've got 3 moves to help you not only open up your hips where we trap a lot of our emotions (especially women or those who identify as female) but challenge your stability and balance: The Warrior Moves Daily Hip Routine.
How to Modify: modify the routine by holding onto a counter, wall or chair.
How to Intensify: make the routine more challenging by holding the positions longer than in the video or by going through the routine more than once.
To Healthy Hips!
P.S. Ready to have a calm, strong, well-rested body? Our online bodywork camps will not only help you Move With Ease but every camp sale supports an organization that improves the health & welfare of animals and wild life like the Beagle Freedom Project & Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Learn more.
Mollie Miller, PT