For many of us June means summer swim league. According to The Race Club the kick is the most undertrained swim skill. The pace of your kick determines your swimming speed. I chose Hero’s pose for this month’s blog to help our swimmers with ankle flexibility and mobility.
TAKE YOUR MARK
As with all poses, if this is painful in any way, stop because it shouldn’t be.
Kneel on your mat with your knees together and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Separate your feet slightly wider than hip width. If the pose is too intense or if the floor is too hard on the top of your feet or your knees, you can try kneeling on a thin blanket. Keep the top of your feet flat on the floor and your big toes angled in toward each other. Press down evenly across the top of both feet.
Bend your knees a bit, lean forward, and place your hands on your calves. Pull your calf muscles back away from your knees and roll them out. Lower your buttocks and sit on the floor. Sit down between your feet, resting weight equally across both “sit” bones. Keep your heels and shins alongside your hips and upper thighs, with your feet directly in line with your shins. Do not let your feet splay open and do not let them turn inward. If you feel any knee discomfort come out of the pose and try a block or bolster under your “sits” bones.
The inner sides of your calves should touch your outer thighs. Sit in this posture for up to 5 minutes, adjusting the duration depending on how it feels for you.
To come out of the pose, lower your arms toward your mat placing your hands on the floor, and lift your buttocks. Raise one knee at a time, sliding each foot forward to straighten your leg into a Staff Position.
For an added side body stretch extend your arms straight in front of you. Bring your palms together and interlock your fingers. Now, turn your palms forward (away from you), inhale, and raise your arms overhead. Use this extension along your arms to lengthen your sides upward. Hold for up to 60 seconds. Lower your arms, change the interlacing of your fingers, and repeat.
For increased sensation in the ankles, try to lift your knees off the ground, balancing yourself so that all of your weight is on the tops of your feet. If you are physically unable to do this, lean backward slightly and support yourself with your arms behind you and your fingertips facing your feet. Stay in this position for 30 seconds. Build up to one minute, and eventually you should be comfortable in this position for minutes at a time with no pain. Again though, this should never be painful so do not “push” yourself through pain.
According to Yoga Journal, this pose is similar to the way swimmers use the ankles as the foundation of movement while propelling the body forward with a kick. The top of the foot should hit the water, as if in Hero Pose, at 180 degrees. The more ankle mobility a swimmer has, the faster that swimmer can move through the water. If your swimmers are as competitive as mine, I know that’s all the reason they need to try this pose!
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