Introduction | Heels & Hamstrings | Ankles Shins & Calves | Knee & Hip Joints | High Heel Healing
foot function for pain relief and posture

 

Foot Function for

Spinal Support and Pain Relief

 

How to flow the toes, ease the insteps & expand the soles

for posture, getting grounded and comfort in footwear

 

Understanding alignment for heel stability, ankle mobility

& arch support in exercise, walking and well-being.

Heels & Hamstrings

hamstrings stretch using resistance band on the heel of the foot for leverage

Backbone and Wingspan®

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Herald : 212 - 647 - 8878

 

The heel is almost a spherical shape, composed of all the back of the foot below the ankle and behind the arch. The foot in front of the ankle must be relaxed to softly flow forward, allowing the powerful heel to draw back.

 

The ball-shaped heels relate to the ball-and-socket joints of the pelvis. The ball-shaped head at the top of the thigh bone - or femur - deepens back into the hip socket for the legs to integrate into the core and lower spine. This is essential for hip joint health. The heel ball levers back for the femur ball to deepen in. This also helps engage the hamstrings to the sits bones which stabilizes the pelvic structure. The heels help the hamstrings.

 

 

 

“Have foot pain? Sign up for a high heel recovery clinic at which women do heel-on-ball exercises designed to strengthen hamstrings and core.”

 

- The New York Times
Fashion & Style

strengthening feet using stability ball exercises with leverage in the heels

 

The heels are for leverage and stability and draw back and away from the ankle. To learn this you develop a sensitivity for using surfaces underneath the heels - like the ball - to help create this drawing-back - which is somewhat of an action and direction, but not an exertion. If you try too strongly to pull the heel back, you will make the tendons on the top of the foot tense and tighten the ankle joint. “Heeling” is a subtle, gentle force.

 

You’ll work with the elasticity and resilience of a stability ball under the back of the heels - first just to get the the gentle and sustainable stability in the heels - then you’ll use the ball to strengthen the hamstrings.

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Foot Servant & Foot Soldier

 

The way that this foot philosophy developed was through years of sitting at a footbar. A footbar is what clients place their feet on to perform some of the exercises on the Pilates reformer. The client is lying down, but I am sitting up or kneeling, literally at their feet - with their heels in my hands. Through this somewhat peculiar relationship of myself to the clients that I worked with - getting to really know about their bodies specifically in seeing the heels and soles over and over, I realized how many problems with posture and pain, overall alignment and even basic health - start with the feet.

 

At a certain point I realized the concepts I was getting across to people on the reformer could be taught using foot exercises on a stability ball. The stability ball in some ways is even better than a reformer because a person can put the heels directly in contact with the resilient surface of the ball. He or she feels the backside of the heel so this sensation can help them with how the heels should feel when standing, walking and even sitting.

 

So the information in this site - and all the stability ball exercises - are designed to get across what I used to use a Pilates reformer to do. However, these are solely principles presented here - not Pilates - so you can use the wisdom for anything you choose to do.

 

heel of the foot expands back and aligns wide for ankle joint stability

"Recently I decided to attend a course at the French Culinary Institute. I realized that for six weeks I would be standing for eight hours a day in chefs’ clogs with a heightened heel that I wasn't used to. Having never been on my feet for that extended period of time, and realizing the stress it would have on my back and legs, I asked Herald for advice. He gave me an image of filling out the back of the shoe, sensing not only the back of my heel expand, but sensing the outer edges. It helped me get through the six-week daily course. Because of the ankle stability I had from using my heels effectively, I could tolerate hours of standing without locking my knees. I experienced no lower back pain nor pain in my feet. Thus I could devote all my attention to my cooking classes."

 

-   W. Lee Warner |  Male  |  Financial Consultant  |  French Cooking Enthusiast

 

head of femur bone into ball and socket joint of the hip

 

Bouncing Back from Injuries

 

The stability ball is very useful because it’s spherical shape can help remind you of the ball-shaped heads of the femur bones which are always in relationship to the small balls of each “whole heel.” When you recover rapidly from an illness or surgery, it’s often said you “bounce back” quickly.

 

The “back” part of bouncing-back is what the ball-shaped heels and ball-shaped femur bone heads are always doing: the heels bounce back behind you and the heads of the femurs bounce back into the ball-and-socket joints of the hips. I call it a bounce because that’s how it feels to me when I help someone with the ball-and-socket hip joints. The deepening and subtle bouncing-back of the bones into the resilience of the ball and socket joints initiates sustainable core stabilization and integrated lumbar spine support through how the inner thighs and deep core strength muscles work together.

 

So if you’re recovering from hip or knee surgery, it’s going to be helpful to learn how to bounce back with the heels because their relationship to the femurs keeps you centered and strong in your core.

 

 

"Just want to Thank YOU for the information you gave me when I was visiting NYC... I am now easily running 7 - 8 miles & have not had any pain.... the moment I feel anything at all during my run, I think about the ball of my heel, my hamstrings, how the bones sit in my pelvis, and then suspending myself from my occipital ridge... awesome information! The strange pain is gone since I got my alignment right"

 

-  Christie Hill  |  Fitness Instructor & Runner  |  Pilates Studio Owner

 

 
joints leg structure - ankle joint mobility - knee joint mobility - hip joint health

The Power of Three

 

We know there are three parts of the spine and three parts of the foot. There are three joints of the leg: ankle, knee and hip. But many people don’t know there’s another three: three hamstrings on each leg.

 

All three hamstrings attach to the sits bone. The outermost - or lateral - hamstring is very important. Strengthening the full-length of all three hamstrings up to the sits bone, then widening the lateral one helps relieve tightness in the ilio tibial band - or ITB - which will then help relieve knee and hip pain.

 

The lateral hamstring is also of most assistance in helping to tone the saddlebag area of the hips.

 
three hamstrings attach to the sits bone- arms from the back - legs from the back -

Hugging the Hamstrings

 

I often tell clients to hug the ball into the backs of the legs so that the support of the ball can help release the tightness of the belly part of the hamstrings that gets pulled down towards the knees. Also, the flow of the femur weight - which is the same direction as the flow of the hamstrings towards the sits bones - is more easily achieved in this lying-down position, and will eventually be transferred into standing. Then the three hamstrings on each leg - an enormous force of muscular strength - can help with posture.

 

It can seem confusing because we are conditioned to think that posture is lifting up. But the way posture works is by levering the heels back which grants a tethering of the hamstrings up to the sits bones.

 

Even if you don’t own a stability ball, you can get a sense for the levering of the heels by placing them on the edge of an upholstered chair or allowing them to drape off the edge of a firm bed. What is important is that you develop the subtle activation of heeling - feeling the heel release back away from the ankle.

 
hamstrings muscle release using heel levering into stability balllevering heels of the feet using upholstered desk chair heels expand back using edge of bed
 

 

"I've read your posts about tethering the hamstrings, and have been alternately sitting and standing in my living room feeling what you describe. I love the images that accompany your text and that you illustrate your teachings with both physical images and verbal sketches. The writing is clear enough that even if someone never had a personal session with you, she could still connect to the sensations you’re describing in her own body.”

-  Melinda Meals  |  Communications Professional  |  Movement Enthusiast

 

 

Getting a Leg Up On The Competition

 

As I mentioned in the Foot Servant part of the first section of this Heels & Hamstrings Page, what I am teaching in these websites and blogs and videos are principles - not Pilates or ballet or any other technique. I call myself a movement teacher rather than a fitness instructor because although I use some exercises and stretches to get across the principles of movement, I use whatever exercise or stretch best suits relating a certain principle, rather than a prescribed regiment, or giving students an arm series or leg series or ab series of exercises. There is a fine place for exercise in many many people’s lives - by no means am I trying to replace whatever form of exercise you do to keep you fit and healthy. What I am interested in is helping you understand some basic underlying ways that the body works functionally, mechanically and even architecturally, because then any exercise program you choose is benefited.

 

Truthfully, in any exercise you do, arms, legs and core are working equally in co-ordination. If you understand that the arms, when integrated from the triceps into the trapezius and lats give you powerful wings on either side of the upper spine - and the legs, when integrated from the heels into hamstrings and then into the backs of the hips give powerful support on either side of the lower spine, it simplifies the body because you just have arms from the back, legs from the back and a spine. Then you will be easily and quickly empowered without worry about displaced necks, shoulders, knees, hips, heads and abs. Every movement - including every exercise or posture - will come from the same place - off of the spine. This is why I took so much time photographing the body from odd angles and using so many close-ups of the soles and heels. The soles and heels are what align with the spine, which is how you find center, core and line. But because we don’t often look at our own soles or heels, and can’t see our backs or spines very easily, having these images is essential.

 

As you become adept at the using the heels to initiate movement - or exercise - or your favorite sport - or posture - or walking, running and cycling - you will notice that you are more powerful with less exertion. This is because when you use the arms from the back, legs from the back and spine for moving, the co-ordination of these elements is more powerful - without strain - than anything you do with isolated legs or arms or abs. So trust the ease, please.

 
bridging exercise basic to Pilates method and physical therapy stability ball exercises promote core strengthening and pelvic stabilization
 

 

spine support for foot pain and posture - bridging exercise for hamstrings strength

A Bridge to Expansion, Extension and Suspension

 

The bridge exercise is very basic to different methods of exercise, physical therapy and dance. The photos above illustrate the extension of the legs prior to performing the Suspension Bridge, which is detailed extensively in this Suspension Bridge document which you may click to enlarge and then print if you wish.

 

I originally modified this movement - from how bridging is typically performed - for the High Heel Recovery Clinics I hosted for women from 2009 - 2011.

 

However, even though it’s part of the High Heel Healing Page, I include it here also, because it will help you understand the elements of co-ordination that I wrote about in the previous section, and it will help you take the levering of the heels and the tethering of the hamstrings into expansion of the back, extension of the spine and suspension of the pelvis.

 

As I further develop this site and post more blog entries and shoot more videos, there will emerge an entire range of stability ball and roller movements for you to explore and expand your understanding of these underlying principles.

 

But you’ll always be levering, tethering, extending, expanding and suspending.

 

heel leverage creates sits bone stability for hamstrings strength

 

 

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The instructions and advice presented within this website and accompanying blog and video sites are in no way intended as a substitute for medical or physical therapy counseling.
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