Before you go to sleep, take the time to give your runner feet some extra TLC. These moves also work when your feet are stiff.
“Why cause pain to get out of pain?” If you’ve struggled with the agonies of foam rolling or deep-tissue massage, you can probably relate to this statement by Sue Hitzmann. The former fitness instructor who hosted “Crunch TV” on ESPN has morphed into a guru who teaches people how to heal. Her program of DVDs, books and equipment you can use at home or in studios with certified teachers is called the Melt Method.
Her exercises might look similar to foam rolling, which often uses a harder roller to release the fascia that covers muscles. But her movements are much smaller and targeted with a soft roller to address what she calls “stuck stress,” which causes aches due to connective-tissue dehydration, compression, neurological imbalance and faulty body sense.
Before bed or when you wake up feeling stiff in the morning…
For this foot treatment, try to keep your head up and not look at your feet. Instead, use your body sense to feel if you have the ball in the right spot. You can stand next to a wall or chair to help you balance, if necessary. Keep the pressure tolerable, and if you feel pain, back off.
Tools You Need
Soft roller or towel
For most of the exercises, you’ll need a soft roller or rolled-up beach towels or a traditional, firm roller wrapped in a towel, blanket or yoga mat.
The Melt Method sells its own soft ball, but you can use a cushy dog ball or a Kadima or paddle ball.
For this method to rehydrate cells and connective tissue, you need to drink water. Hitzmann recommends sipping it consistently throughout the day.
1) Body Scan Assess
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Close your eyes and notice your feet. Does it feel like you have more weight on your left or right side? Are you sensing that your weight is concentrated on a particular region? Scan up your legs. Notice the joints of your ankles, knees and hips. Notice your muscles. Are your legs tense? Are your thigh and butt muscles engaged? See if you can relax these muscles and still remain comfortably standing. If so, this is how you know you are working too hard to simply stand up.
2) Position Point Pressing
Place the soft ball on the floor in front of you and step onto it with your right foot so the ball is under the front of your arch at position point 1. Stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Gently shift some of your body weight onto the ball to create tolerable pressure. Then shift some of your weight off the ball. Repeat this shifting 2–3 times to ease into tolerable compression, while you take focused breaths. Step backward with the opposite foot and shift your weight to that foot. Place the ball under position point 5, in front of the heel bone. Apply tolerable compression to that point as you take a focused breath.
Place the ball on the back of your arch, right in front of the heel. Keeping the front of your foot on the floor, slowly move the ball from side to side in front of the heel. Continue gliding the ball from side to side as you work your way to the back of the heel, then back to the starting position.
With the ball on the back of your arch, right in front of the heel, use a slightly heavier compression to wiggle your foot left to right. The ball should barely move.
Place the ball directly under the big toe knuckle (2). Press the ball toward your heel in a continuous motion with tolerable, consistent pressure. For the greatest result, begin your “rinse” with your foot slightly behind you, so you can easily create a smooth toe-to-heel motion. Lift your foot, place the ball under the next knuckle and rinse (only rinse in one direction). Repeat for all five knuckles.
Using light, quick, random movements, rub your foot and toes over the ball in a scribble-like motion.
7) Body Scan Reassess
Close your eyes and use your body sense to notice the side of the body you just self-treated. Notice your foot. Does it feel different than the other foot? Notice the joints of your leg. You may find that you don’t sense the leg as separate parts anymore, and instead your leg feels more cohesive. Notice if you feel more grounded. Now repeat all of the techniques on the other foot.
8) Final Body Scan Reassess
Close your eyes and use your body sense to assess how you feel. After completing the foot treatment, you may notice these specific changes:
- Foot, knee, hip and low back pain and tension are reduced.
- Feet and legs feel lighter and more flexible.
- Whole-body balance and stability are improved.
- Foot arches are rebalanced, and their buoyancy is enhanced.