You stayed late in the office (again) and your feet drag as you move through your front door. The day was a blur of non-stop projects, meetings, emails, and calls. You hadn’t expected another long work day, but feel positive about all of the progress made on your to-do list. You got so much accomplished! Except now your head hurts. And your body feels like it got hit by a truck.
Before you grab a glass of wine and turn on “The Bachelor”, try this quick exercise to help your body and mind feel better. This technique will help restore your energy and soothe tension in your feet, ankles, calves, hamstrings, hips, and lower back. Heck, it might even help you get rid of that headache. All it takes is a few minutes of self-care to feel better fast.
This exercise is commonly called “foot rolling” or foam rolling. To perform this exercise you will need one yoga tune up therapy ball or a tennis ball. A yoga tune up therapy ball works best because the grippy, rubber material that the ball is made of sticks to the skin. Especially welcome after a long work day, this exercise can be done any time, and almost anywhere. If you are free to take your shoes off when you sit at work, you can even keep a yoga tune up therapy ball under your desk and do impromptu rolling sessions while in the office.
Why does it work?
When you massage the soles of your feet, you loosen the starting point of a network of connective tissue that runs all the way up your back body to the crown of your head. Believe it or not, massaging your feet can loosen your calves, ankles, hips, lower back, and hamstrings. Tom Myers, author of Anatomy Trains: Myofascial Meridians for Manual and Movement Therapists posted a fascinating video from a human dissection showing the entire Superficial Back Line of fascia, connecting from the feet to just above the eyebrows. Watch this video and you will never feel the same about the distance between your head and your toes.
Before you begin this exercise, test your hamstring flexibility: Take your feet hip distance apart, bend your knees slightly, and bring your upper body down into a forward fold (standing hamstring stretch). Press down into your feet, lift your front thighs and straighten your legs. Roll your front upper thighs in, and widen across your hamstrings. Unless you can easily bring your palms to the floor, use yoga blocks (or books or a handy stair), to support your upper body. Make a mental note of how much length or tightness you feel in your hamstrings, hips, and back. Then carefully roll up from your forward bend.
To start: Remove your shoes and socks. Stand by wall or chair to hold on to for balance. Place the yoga tune up therapy ball under one foot and start to roll the sole of your foot over the tennis ball. Experiment with the amount of weight you can put into the ball and still have an intense, yet pleasant sensation. Drape your toes over the tennis ball and massage the backs of your toes. Then work your way down the sole of your foot, all the way back to your heel. Roll along the inner and outer arches. Move slowly and mindfully, only putting as much pressure down onto the ball as you feel comfortable with.
Keep rolling for at least two minutes, thats the minimum amount of time required to make a difference. It helps to set a timer or watch a clock. Once you’ve completely rolled one foot, move to your other foot.
After you’ve rolled both feet, re-test how your body feels by doing a second forward bend. You may be surprised to find that your hamstrings, hips, lower back, and calves feel longer and less tense. I demonstrate this foot rolling exercise sequence in the below video. Press play and follow along as I guide you through a 10 minute foot massage exercise sequence to feel better.
You know you are doing this exercise properly if afterwards you feel relief, release, ease of movement, or less tension. If you continue to roll your feet consistently, some of the “shock of the new” sensations will go away and it will become a pleasant massage habit you look forward to at the end of a long work day. Always check with a doctor before starting this or any exercise routine. Listen to your body and if you feel pain stop immediately.
You’ll notice that by simply taking the time to roll out tight, tense foot muscles, you will ease tension in the entire body. This technique can become a healthy habit that can help you end long work days on a positive note. Bookmark this video routine to use while traveling or after long work days so that you can press play quickly and give your body some T.L.C. For more feel good yoga tune up therapy videos, check out this playlist.
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I hope this exercise helps you end long work days in a positive way. Let me know how you feel after trying this foot rolling technique by leaving me a comment below. I am here to help you feel good.
Here’s to working smarter and thriving in life.
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Originally published at www.carolinejordanfitness.com on January 27, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com