By Maya Ray-Schoenfeld
Pregnancy is hard on the feet! As your baby grows, your feet and lower legs are asked to carry a lot more load than they are used to. Of course it doesn’t stop postpartum, when you spend a lot of time walking, bouncing, and rocking that baby - a lot of stress on your feet as well.
In my work as a Rolfer and a yoga teacher, I have found that there is a direct connection between healthy, mobile feet and a healthy pelvic floor and that opening the calves and hamstrings can be a great relief for the low back.
Here are two simple self-massage exercises to do during pregnancy and postpartum. I recommend yoga tune-up therapy balls or high-bounce pinky balls (which can be found at most toy stores).
Relief for your Feet:
- Rest one hand on a wall for support.
- Place a massage ball under your foot. Gently roll the ball from your heel to the ball of your foot and back again. When you find a tender spot, stop for a moment and wait until you feel a release in the tissues.
- Place your heel on the floor and position the ball right in front of it in your arch. Let the rest of your foot curl around the ball. Stay for several breaths or gently move the foot from side to side.
- Repeat on the other foot
Relief for your Calves:
- Roll up a blanket or towel. Place your heel on the floor and rest the arch of your foot over the roll. You may need to make the roll bigger or smaller to fit your foot.
- Gently bend your knees and fold forward placing your hands on a table, chair, a yoga block, or possibly the floor. It's important that your pelvis is in line with your heels as opposed to being behind them.
- Straighten your legs if you would like more intensity. Keep a slight bend in your knees to avoid hyperextending.
Be gentle and mindful when doing this work. Just a few moments with each spot can go a long way.
Maya Ray is a yoga teacher and Rolfer in Brooklyn. Her upcoming workshop, Align Your Spine & Ease Muscular Tension: Self-Massage for Pregnancy and postpartum, takes place at Bend + Bloom Yoga on Saturday, June 15th at 3pm