By Claire Diab and Dennis Boyle
The ankle is a truly amazing joint. It carries the weight of your body all day long. The ankle allows you to stand, walk, climb stairs, and even get in and out of the car. As firefighters, you add 60 pounds of extra weight with your gear--bunker pants, turnout coat, boots, breathing apparatus, helmet, and gloves.
Many people take their ankles for granted. It is important to nourish and take care of your ankles the yoga way!
The ankle is a very complex joint with tendons, ligaments, and connecting bones that play a key role in allowing your foot to bend up and down and side to side. The ankle joint consists of two bones--the tibia and fibia--that permit the foot to move up and the down. The subtalar joint consists of two bones: the calcaneus, which is the heel bone, and the talus bone, which connects to the calcaneus. As for the ligaments, the achilles tendon is the most important one, which assists with walking and running and is attached to the calf muscle.
Taking proper care of your ankles that support your bodies in motion every day is not difficult at all. Feet to Sky Pose is an excellent way to keep the ankles limber and lubricated to aid in the prevention of injury and improve the flexibility of the connecting muscles and tendons. By performing Feet to Sky Pose and gently rolling the ankle in a circular motion clockwise and counterclockwise, you strengthen and lengthen the ankle and foot muscles, maintaining mobility in these hard-wearing joints and bones. In addition, flexing and pointing your feet while in Feet to Sky Pose by drawing the feet toward the body and then pointing the toes toward the sky also improves the lubrication, strengthening the muscles and bones of the resilient ankles.
Knees to Chest
Breathe 3-5 breaths
Feet to Sky
Breath 3-5 breaths
Flex and Point Toes
- Lying down, bring your knees in toward your chest, breathing full deep breaths in and out of your nostrils. Keep your head on your mat with your chin toward your belly.
- Bring your feet toward the sky with your hands behind the legs above or below the back of your knees.
- Flex and point your feet 9-15 times while breathing in and out.
- Keep your eyes closed and bring your attention to your ankles. Appreciate your ankles for the support they give you all day as you stand, walk, and climb stairs. Enjoy!
- Lengthens the muscles in the back of the legs.
- Massages and strengthens the ankles.
- Nourishes and massages the internal abdominal organs.
- Increases blood flow to the muscles and nerves in the face.
- If your back bothers you, bend your knees slightly toward your chest.
- Avoid this pose if you have had recent ankle surgery.
Claire Diab is an internationally recognized Yoga therapist. She is the director of the Yoga Program for the Chopra Center founded by Dr. Deepak Chopra and Dr. David Simon. She is an adjunct professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University. She is the author of several books and DVDs on Yoga including “Yoga For Firefighters.”
Dennis Boyle is a retired fire director and acting chief with the West Orange (NJ) Fire Department. He was the recipient of the 1999 New Jersey Deputy Fire Chiefs “Fire Officer of the Year” award.