Class #862

Mat Workout

30 min - Class


This class offers specific exercises to release the calves, the knees and feet so the leg muscles can elongate and fire appropriately. You may find this very helpful if you have sluggish, weak, painful or extra tight legs that just wont shift. Niedra says its "not exactly a 'workout' so no sweat involved, but huge muscular shifts and changes if done repeatedly."
What You'll Need: Mat, Half Roller, Moon Box, Small Tennis Ball

About This Video


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So tonight what we're going to do, you're not sure where to stand. We're going to work on releasing the calves and the back of the legs and the feet because we accumulate a huge amount of tension in that part of the body because we spent a lot of times sitting and the muscles started to go become imbalanced. And if we can release those muscles, it's makes sitting, walking, standing much easier, roll much easier. Um, it just, it, it, we stand on our bones more correctly so the bones don't disintegrate, keeps our hips healthy. So to start, let's come with this little half block. Now it's fine to work with the telephone book. You don't have a half block or half cylinder like this. Telephone books work really, really well.

And let's all of us take our right foot. Want you to take your right foot and take the ball of the foot, this platform, and place it right at the top of the cylinder and take the line from the little toe to the heel. And as you press your heel down, it's supposed to line up with the side of your mat. So you will feel like you're turned in and you're pigeon toed because most of the time we stand turned out in the whole outside of part of the legs becomes very tight. So when the only thing is bring the foot more to the middle of the cylinder. Right. So Okay Tim? Nope. [inaudible] that's fine.

Little Toe to heel. Yeah. So you want to make sure I would put it a little higher upsets right at the top. That's it. That's it. And then put your weight on your heel and straighten your right knee so the back of the knee is straight. See if you can lengthen the toes on the cylinders who not lifting them up and shortening the ligaments and tendons, but you're just letting them be long.

Now bring the other foot hip with distance apart. So that's the idea. If you were to stand, period is a good place to have a short shot. The hip with positioning is from your own sit bones down. Okay, that's okay. So hip with memes.

If you were to take your own sit bones and hips, you would want them to go straight down. So at first, and then you look at your own feet, your little toe to your heel, those two, the outer plane of your feet, you want parallel, it's going to feel very awkward because what we're doing is with stretching parts of your legs that usually have become very short and tightened, they start to pull. Now keep checking as you do this, that your weight is in your heel of the right leg. So the whole leg line has to shift around quite a bit. And also check that your knees are straight. Now check that the hip is over the heels and your shoulders are over your hips. So the shoulder line is over the hips and your head is on top of your shoulders.

Very hard because our body's used to being bent over and just relax. Keep thinking into that heel and allowing the calf to relax and release. Very intake can be pretty intense and the ankle joint to start to relax. So this is very subtle work and it's slow work because what happens, the connective tissue around the muscles, which is like a cellophane wrap around the muscles and the ligaments. And the organs, and even the circulatory system when it's stressed or it's in a pattern for a while, it gets tight and hard and it's really a very fine webbing.

So what we're doing now is we're starting release to release that webbing so there's more movement for the muscle to move in. This will space for the muscle to flow properly. So keep checking that your weight is on your heel, your hip is on your ankles, your knees are straight, your shoulders are above your hips and your head is above your shoulders. Now keeping that going, see if you can wiggle the foot that's on the floor a little bit further forward and you're going to keep going until you have this kind of a reaction. You let the calf muscle react release. But as you go forward, there'll be a point where you either feel like you're going to fall back or you're going to do this and you want to find that place because eventually this is going to help you, Tim, keep yourself upright.

So if you, yeah, it's, it's tough. It hurts. Yes, I know. Because those muscles are very tight and short, so no rush on this. This is not rushing. This is not work that you rush and it's not competitive. It's about being in your own body, feeling where the tightnesses and allowing the muscles to start to relax and it's actually incredible. If you do about three minutes of this every day, how quickly the whole back part of the body starts to release.

The legs get healthier, the hips get healthier, so just hold it. Now, Wendy, your foot on the floor is turned out. Bring it a little bit more in and what that does is it starts to widen around the sacrum. It allows the pelvis to go wide again, we have a tendency to start to grip around the Sacramento tailbone and possibly have things like tight lower backs, Sciatica, tight hamstrings. Just keep, keep checking also that you're not shifting in the toes, but you're onto the heel with your weight. The heel is a great big bone and you want to be stacking up the bones of your body on top of each other and that keeps your bones strong.

What happens is we fall off and then we put our weight onto the little toe, the toes, which are they small joints and they start to get deformed and get Bunyan's and hammertoes and all sorts of not so fun structures and the the muscles of the legs change. Okay, now the blade that's on the floor, wiggle it back, step up the block and just let the, and just relax for a minute. Let the tissue soften. You can bend your knees if you want to and let the feet kind of let go. Now as you're standing here, just check that you're not swinging forward. Check just to get familiar with this feeling of weight into the heels, the hips over the heels, the shoulders over the hips and the head above the shoulders. Oh Wendy, that already looks great. Very nice. Okay, so guess what? The other side, so same thing. You take the ball of the foot and it's going to feel pigeon toed it first and you make the ball of the foot flat across the top and then you look at from your little toe to your heel. Can you get that to be a parallel line? Almost there. That okay by that Tim. Okay, that's good.

And at first it feels pretty deformed because part of our feet and star developed a lot of pooling. The cavs have developed a lot of pooling and the bones are starting to be jammed out so the foot looks deformed. But this starts to open and release all the bones in the feet and the cabs. So wait, you start with the weight in your knee, in your heel. Now stretch your knee all the way.

Really get it straight because again, the whole back, the hamstrings and the calves in the back of the knee get bent and tight and they start to pull a skeleton to non optimum position. So with the knee straight, then see if you can bring the other foot a little bit closer. And if you feel you're going to completely topple over, you can take it back. It's painful. I know. And then check is your weight into your heel? Is your knee straight? Is Your hip over your heel?

Is your shoulder line over your hip line and is your head on top of your shoulders so all the bones in your body are stacked up and just let those muscles go. Just keep trying to relax into that pulling and tightness. Keep checking to see if the knees are really straight cause sometimes I can. It's very, we're very used to not extending the knees all the way so that it gets very tight and twisted. If you feel ambitious, you can take the foot on the floor and with your toes, wiggle it further forward.

But remember if you find that you're either throwing your hips back or you're toppling over, you've gone too far and just let the leg muscles drop and get along and check that the feet are relaxing cause the feet also was just starting to let go a little bit. Another place to check. Are these two bones of your pelvis, are they facing straight forward? Because they usually will start to twist around. So you want the hip bones facing in the same direction as the feet. So everything's going straight forward. And if you feel yourself being pulled, it's because parts of your body have started to tighten up and lock the bone alignment into a non optimum place.

Really Nice stretch knee. See if you can keep the left knee even straight or Wendy. Ow You got it? Yes, that's it. Keep opening up the back of the knee. Very good. And I'll bring the foot back. Wiggle the foot that you're standing on back a little bit and bring this foot down and just let everything settle.

So nice to be just flat on the floor, isn't it? Now there's a lot of muscle around the whole outside this area and this whole band gets very, very tight again because most of our modern lifestyle is a sitting lifestyle. And then we end up taking our weight forward on the toes instead of back on the heel. So it gets weak and short. So if you're standing with your feet hip with the part, why didn't you just push the block to one side for a minute? Take the left foot forward and again, have a look that from the little toe to the heel of the outside of the foot, you want to be parallel so you can keep your knees straight and then shift your weight back onto the right foot and you'll feel your hips swing to the right.

So the weights on the right foot, now the pelvis is going to see, saw a little bit from here. You bring your hip forward, so you shift weight onto the front foot. So Tim, you want to shift? Have a look at me. You shift forward onto the front foot. So your palate, what's shifting now is the pelvis. You're basically going to be moving backwards and as you go forward, your left hip goes up. As you go back, your right hip goes up and your knee stays straight. So the movement, this is a ball and socket and you're starting to loosen up all the muscular patterns around it. Now the shoulders stay straight. So everything's happening from the waist down. Takes a little bit of work. That's the idea.

Wendy loosening up these hips a little bit. Shift the weight forward. Good. Now Tim, the right foot needs to turn out, get the heel turned out right? Yes. Better. Better. That's it. So pretty tricky. This one, shift the way the pelvis will swing out a bit and swing out a bit just to start to get this a little bit more loosening up on the outside of the hips. That's the idea, Wendy. Now as you do this, check that your head stays over your shoulders and then the shoulders are moving between the back hip and the front hip.

Okay. Shift your feedback. Take the other foot forwards. Again, little toe to heel out. So the two outside lines of your feet are parallel lines. Start with your weight in your back heel. So to do that your pelvis has to go back and out a little bit and the knees are straight when they can eat your knees straight, both knee, straight back, knee, straight, back, knee straight. And then shift forward. So your now your left hip drops and then your right hip drops and your left hip drops. Tim, keep your knees straight and your right hip drops and I'm sorry. Right hip lift, what am I saying?

And then left hip lifts and right hip lift. So you're, you swayed to there and then you sway to there. There you go. And that's better Tim. Yes. And one more time shift and shift. Did you, do you feel a stretch? Very hard at first and yet this area is all around a ball and socket joint and it's the biggest structure in the body and it should be able to have a seesaw mechanism. It's designed for that. That's the idea. Okay. Now let's move on to another one. We'll take, take your moon box and this is way too high.

It's much better to have a structure like a book or telephone, a big fat telephone book that's about this far from the floor. But we're working with the biggest structure cause this is what we have and because it's way higher than it's supposed to be, we're going to braise, put the block next to it. But normally if you were on a smaller height, um, you wouldn't need the extra block. So standing on your left foot, just pop up for a minute. So your left foot is up on the block. Now let's see. Yeah, both of you face straight forward. Yeah, that's a team. That's it, Wendy.

Good. This is good. So we can have to have a look at the foot on the block you want. Again, little toe to heel parallel to the size of the blocks. You're going to be slightly turned in, it'll feel turned in for a while. Good. And then the big toe side is close to the edge.

Then just hop up for a minute with the other foot here so you can kind of now stretch and lift the, straighten the left leg. So you're up high. Now from here what you're going to do is take the right heel and start to lower it down. So you from your waist, you press way down. But knees stay straight. Knees stay straight. So it's the hips at lower. And then lift the hip hop. Nice. Stay Straight Tim. So you lower the right hip without the knees bending and lift up and lower. That's the idea, Wendy and lift up and lower down and lift.

So you start to get a deep work in the apps and lift and lower knees. Stay straight, Tim, and up. Now give me your hands for a minute. Keep this knee really straight. Ah, keep the weight on the heel of the sun. Now lower the right heel just slightly. That's it. And then lift it up again. So you work from the waist lifted up. Good. That's it. Lower down a little bit. That's better. And lift up, up, up, up, up with the right hip, right hip up.

Yes, and lower down and lift up. Now I'm going to show you we're going to progress with this because now you want to see if you can lift the right foot all the way up so it's off the block and flexed and then you lower the foot down and you lift up. I lower the foot down with the knees straight and up and lower down and up. I think this is a good one. That can also definitely be done holding onto the wall until the muscles get a little stronger. One more time and up.

I'll tell you what, come on down. That was very good. Again, this area can be very detailed, so starting up with the right foot, you want your little toe to heel parallel to the wall and just hop up onto the, onto the block and stretch your knee and are you okay? And you okay? Good. Now stretch the right knee and you want your hip, your shoulder over your hip, your head over your shoulders and the right knee straight and the weight into the right heel. Now slowly let the left hip dip so the heel goes lower without the right knee bending. Tim, keep the right knee straight too. It wakes up your hip sockets and then lift way up again and lower down.

Keeping the knees straight and lift way up. Trying to keep this plum line through the body very good and lower down. Lower the heel and lift up and lower the heel and lift up and lower the heel and lift up. Now stay up. Check that your weight is in your heel. Check that the right knee is straight and then flex your left foot so you pull the toes off that little block and keep your alignment so your head is over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, your hips over your heel. Now lower the left heel down without the shoulders displacing and lift up again.

Good and lower down. Keeping the foot flexed and lift up. Tim, keep the knee very straight and lower down and lift up that hip and lower down and lift up. And one more time. Lower down and lift up. Very good. Okay, good. Come on down. Let's go back onto the mat and just leave your stuff there. So next, the cabs, as you can see, a very tight and they affect the hamstrings. They affect the knees, they affect the ankles, uh, extensively.

So take this little ball. It's also possible to work with the tennis ball. These a little promotional balls from staples I put, they cost six bucks. So I like them because they're slightly soft and they support putting pressure into the muscle, but letting the muscles actually relax into them. So you can take your time. So let's come down on the knees and I, I'll turn back to you. So you can see you want to place the ball at the top of the calf, right in the middle of the calf and then start sitting back into it.

Then you can keep your hands on the floor. Tim, if you can, you want your toes extended. By the way, all of this work will in time, me and your feet don't cramp as much. It's very common for, you know, it's that pulley mechanism through the body. When you start to work a muscle that's already tight, it will spasm. So this is a lovely way to start to increase your range of movements. Just stay there and try to relax and let that calf breathe. And you can probably start to feel a pulling into the knee in a good way.

Opening up and the you can feel often the calf started coming like hard and then it goes soft. And then you can relax a little deeper into it and a little deeper into it. So see if you can relax. Even check if you're tight around your buttocks. Now take the ball still like that and just like in roll it out to to pulling your calf muscle outwards when opening up the tissue and then come back up and roll the calf inwards. So it's going to roll towards the middle of your inner thigh so it can be, it starts to stretch out. And again, all you want to do is kind of feel and just relax and let the muscles start to let go a little bit and then come back and move the ball. It was right up close to the top.

Move it down a little bit and sit back again. And you can keep your hand there to see if you can keep it kind of in the middle of the calf out. I know, okay, first time is the absolute worst time. If you do this regularly, the legs just start to love it. Like it really relieves a huge amount of tension that gets locked into the legs. And the flexibility helps increase flexibility. Then roll the ball inwards a little bit.

It's rolling toward the middle and then roll it out a little bit. So sometimes it can feel like a pulling or almost like a tearing sensation, which is because again, the connective tissue around the muscle has become so hard and dry. It's like locked. It's kind of like gripping and if you just stay and you start to relax into it and relax into it, what happens is these fibers start to pull apart again and it becomes a mesh. It's actually quite profound how much it can release and go back to its original condition if it's being gently coaxed to stop holding on. So tight, not needed anymore. Okay. Change sides. So again, putting the ball behind the hamstring and sitting back.

Yeah, there's always a side kind of regulatory, how different the body can be. Yeah. Oh, I just felt my calf muscle relax a little bit, feels so good. And then roll the ball out and roll the ball in and then come and move the ball down a little bit and roll the ball out and then roll the ball in. And truth be told it's better to spend more time with kind of going a little faster, but it's still good.

If you can hold any one of these four good 90 seconds, at least that's when the fast show really starts. Just go, oh, okay. It's not dangerous anymore. I can start to let go and release and then come on out. And one other one, you'll take the ball and place it under the toes. And this is going to stretch out the lower foot. Now what you'll feel your foot wants to do all sorts of funny things and possibly go into different shapes. Let it, don't try to hold your foot into what you think is the right way.

So often the foot will want a pigeon toe inwards. If it's very painful, you, um, you just kind of stay with it. Very, very painful again because we in shoes all the time and we're sitting a lot and the whole foot gets so, so, so tight. So great way to start to open up the energy in the foot, open up the feet again, but not fun to do. Okay. Come out and have a go on the other foot. So again, placing the foot under the ball or in the toes and it can go any way. You could actually start up by the arch and the ankle and slowly roll through and just let the foot stretch. That's a gym.

So slightly softer balls like this one is nicer than a tennis ball, but in a, in a pinch. Tennis balls do just fine. And I'm worked with a lot of people who fell in love with a tennis ball as a result. Won't go anywhere without it. Okay. And then come back up. Okay. And just stand on your feet for a minute and just stand on your heels again.

Get the feet under your under your pelvis and just get the hips over the heels and get the knees straight and get the shoulders over the hips and the head over the shoulder. So you just start to be familiar with this weighting into the bones and in tight start to allow the muscles and the tissue to unravel. And this looks very good, Tim. You want your right foot more turned in just for now. That's it. Lean time. The foot shape will literally change so that the knees and the feet just look, don't look, don't look. So pigeon toed and we will do one last thing, which is like we do in the [inaudible] class. The roll down against the wall. The few stand with your back against the wall and take the foot alignment from again from your outer foot. Good.

Only thing is can get your feet even so meaning your left foot and your right foot. That's upping the right foot a little that that's looking better. Putting them up a little wider. Just a little wider. Good, good, good, good. Right heel left elm. So move it out a bit. There you go. Okay. Now both of you stretch your knees. That's so you're leaning into the wall right now with your bottom.

Now drop your head and just start rolling down and keep waiting into the heels. So you roll down, roll down, roll down. So you can probably feel a huge stretch along your back body. [inaudible] yeah, and roll back up again. [inaudible] and then so you can get your shoulders to the wall and the back of your head to the wall. And again, drop your head, keeping the knees long.

Start to roll down at the arms. Hang Wendy. If you can see, let the weight of the body just drop. Let the backs of the knees open. See you can go a little bit further. Just let the knees long though, Tim. The more important for me right now is getting the backs of them to open. Good. And come back up and now bring the hips forward. So you're standing on youtube and one more time. Roll down, keeping the knees straight.

Let the head drop. If you bought him, goes back to the wall. That's fine. We'll roll. Roll, roll, roll. Roll. Roll at the arms belong, let the head belong, and then roll back up. Roll back, roll back up, roll back up. Let those legs shift gears. I'm pretty wild. Okay, and then just step off, step back in and step in front. And just one more time to stand for a minute and just feel what your legs feel like. You want to wait on your heels. Now it's real easy. Shoulders are right over the hips. The head are above the shoulders, and you both look great. Awesome. Okay. Thank you very much.


Oh joy, I think somebody heard my request, Prob all the whining I been doing lately !! This is wonderful & I cant wait to try it! Back of my left knee has been screaming since the surgery, my calves and hammies are so tight. Ty Neidra,, if you were here I would kiss you!
Not so sure I can do the thing with the ball quite yet but will work up to it.. so with that said if you dont have a ball like the one shown will a rolled towel do? Again, thanks for a great class!!
Hi Jamie,
yes, a rolled up towel will be a very good starting place as you sound like you are super tight so a less dense surface for resistance will allow you to let go of some of that tension.
Please do this work more than once: if you can repeat daily for a week you will be amazed at how much your legs will open up.
Enjoy the journey.
I have to comment once more, I tried this again this morning before I went to PT session and proud to report my knee is more straight than its been in weeks! I passed this class onto my Physcial Therapist who noticed the difference. He was very interested in the exercises. I still have to eliminate the thing with the ball but am hopeful by next week I will be able to manage that one. TY again Neidra. I am currently talking to my PT about joining forces with Pilates! Interesting.
where can i buy half moon box?
Jamie, this is wonderful, only thing is that these routines are not really " traditional Pilates" they are more release techniques I have become interested in as I find them a phenomenal support to exercises, as we all, at times, need to back up and release the body before it is a prime instrument to work movement corrrectly.
Jodie, I sell the half moon boxes so if you want one please contact me directly
Ahhh Trigger Point Therapy! Will add this to my TPT routine. Thank you
This was incredible, I have very tight legs, i cant lift my legs to 90 degrees when lying down, i always assumed this was tight hamstrings, now I know its feet and calves etc too. It felt very painful but in a good way I am going to repeat this every day, thankyou Niedra
So glad you are feeling the " good pain sort of benefit" Azra, yes, you should see very fast changes if you do this daily.
Very happy to read your comment - keep me posted.
Hi Niedra, I wanted to update you on my progress. These stretches have made my legs release in a very profound way. I no longer have the heavy feeling in my calves, I have been amazed to find that my hip flexors arent so tight anymore and my kneese feel more stable, they no longer make the crunching noise when I walk downstairs !
Even though I have been doing pilates for a while I have never seen much improvement in my legs until now thankyou, thankyou !!!!!!
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