One of the most foundational poses - the standing forward fold leading into a halfway lift is most commonly overlooked where most people sit back in their heels, crank their head up, and pop their ribcage down.
Let's look at the variations!
Hands on the floor *MORE DIFFICULT*
Hands on the floor, more difficult to roll shoulders away from ears, pelvis tilts forward. Thus legs have to be bent slightly, to press tailbone back.
Hands on shins *MODIFIED*
Hands on shins, must press the weight forward in the feet to roll shoulders away from ears, draw navel to spine. Legs can be bent slightly for those with tight hamstrings, but there is less strain on the back body.
Hands on blocks *MODIFIED*
Hands are placed on blocks, weight shifts forward in the feet as shoulders are rolled back, navel is drawn to spine, as the tailbone points back in space.
Optimally, you want to maintain a neutral spine, keeping the pelvis happy, back of the neck long, while keeping the shoulders rolled away from the ears.
Due to our differing bone density and composition (think femur bone, pelvis) , postural compensations (affecting flexibility and flexion in the hips), and muscle tightness (stemming from the feet, hamstrings, and psoas - hip flexors) among other varying factors, your flexion at the hip will be different at different times of the year at different points of your practice.
So, how can we optimize flexibility of flexion of the hips?
Roll the feet out
Rolling the fascia out in the sole of the foot (for 5-10 minutes with each foot) will surprisingly enhance in lengthening the tendons and muscles in the backs of the legs.
Everything in the body is interlinked. As we are bipedal and more weight-bearing in our hips, anything that is straining or limited in our spine and back body is most likely linked to the bottom of the feet. So, start from the ground up.
- Roll along the length. Start by rolling forward and back along the length of the sole of the foot, focusing on the three arches of the foot:
- Medial Arch (big toe to heel)
- Lateral Arch (pinky toe to heel)
- Transverse Arch (under the ball joint).
- Compress and Release. You can stop at any accupressure points along the sole that feel extra tight and gently compress, adding more weight, then gently release. Repeat a few times along different accupressure points.
- Rake across the sole (rolling left to right).
- Make circular rotations covering a large surface area.
Choose any mixture of techniques or stick to one that works for you and remember to roll out both feet!
Do you currently roll out?
Have you noticed any significant differences in the back line of your body?