Each month at Move Move we set ourselves a Move of the Month Challenge. Throughout the month we focus on mastering that move. Sometimes our Move of the Month is just one move, other times it maybe a series of moves. But our aim is to progress in some way.
Our move this month is Ankle Press on the Pilates Chair. But before we get into the specifics let’s talk about your feet.
If you were to ask me which is the most often neglected body part in general exercise programs my instant response would be the feet! Your feet form the basis of everything you do upright – standing whilst watching the kids play footie, running for the train, walking around the shopping centre. So they get a lot of work all day, every day. Your feet and ankles are key in transferring the forces that go through your body every time you take a step.
We’re all guilty of making poor shoe choices – heels, thongs, those favourite sneakers that are falling apart. Yet, we pay no attention to our feet – until they start to hurt. Maybe an unfortunate incident with the gorgeous but impractical 3-inch heels on the weekend led to an ankle sprain or maybe you’ve been diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis (a common foot issue). Whatever the case, giving your feet and ankles some TLC can go a long way to preventing injuries and common foot problems. And we’re not talking about a trip to the nail salon for a luxury pedicure!
Pilates gives us so many options for working your feet and ankles. Starting with the fact that we don’t wear shoes whilst doing Pilates! From footwork on the reformer, to muscle release with the hedgehogs or spiky balls, to balance exercises. All of these together work your feet and ankles, sometimes without you even realising it.
This month our Move of the Month – Ankle Press – forms a small part of a bigger picture of focusing on your feet and ankles. Expect to do a whole range of foot and ankle related Pilates moves this month.
Our Move of the Month, Ankle Press (aka Soleus Press or Ankle Exercise) is traditionally done on the Pilates Chair but we have variations that can be done the Pilates Reformer and other equipment as well.
As with most Pilates moves, it seems simple enough. Place the ball of your foot on the pedal of the Pilates Chair and rest your knee on the front edge of the seat. Slowly press with the foot to plantar flex (point your foot like a ballerina) and then release the pedal to dorsi-flex.
As always with Pilates, the devil is in the details. You’ll need someone to watch you from behind to check that your ankle alignment is good. They may see that you’re rolling your ankle or foot or that there’s some shaking and jerky movement.
The rolling is due to poor ankle/foot alignment and posture. The shaking/jerking is because we’re challenging your deep calf muscle – the Soleus in an eccentric or lengthened position. The move you work on this and other foot/ankle moves the stronger this muscle will become. Soon your move will be smoother and easier.
By the end of the month you’ll be walking with a spring in your step!