Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 3:11 pm | Fair 69º

 
 
 
 
Q&A with K & A

Fun and Fit: My Calves Got a Big Stiffy

What do stretching and technique have to do with walking up and down hills? Everything!

Dear Fun and Fit: Alexandra, I know you’ll probably faint, but having exercised for 1½ hours two days in a row, I have a legitimate workout question for you and Kymberly. Yesterday and today, a friend and I did a brisk, very hilly walk for an hour followed by 20-minute pilates DVD workouts. OK, that’s really 1.33 hours, so I exaggerate.

Fun and Fit:Q and A with K and A, aka Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA, and Alexandra Williams, MA
Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A, aka Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA, and Alexandra Williams, MA

It is now very clear to me that I didn’t stretch enough afterward. My calves are getting really stiff. It was 2½ hours ago that I stopped working out. Is there anything I can do now to help the lactic acid leave my calves? Help, please!

— Liz, Goleta

Alexandra: Why would I faint? I’m not the one who overdid it! I only go for walks on surfaces that are flat. Why would I want to sweat during my nice walk? If you want to get rid of stiffness, have your muscles practice public speaking. Or learn to become a better stretcher. Or ask to be carried down those hills on one! And what do you mean by “really hilly”? Is that a reference to a television reality show in which everyone must fend for themselves in a mountainous region (I define “mountainous” as anything rising above sea level)?

Kymberly: Well, as you probably noticed, we didn’t get the huge bribe gift for getting to your question via the super express rush deluxe insta-answer service. So let’s answer as if you were going to hike the hills again and wonder what to do next time. Hope you survived in the meantime.

A: Miss Lizzie, when you walk downhill, your shin muscles — let’s call them Aunty Tibby; the formal name is anterior tibialis — lengthen and your calves — let’s call them Bessie and Bossy; the formal names are gastrocnemius and soleus — shorten. Shorten is nature’s way of saying “contract.”

If you had gone for a flat or even mildly hilly walk, your bleating calves wouldn’t be crying so much for Mama. But you have admitted, under no oath whatsoever, that your walk was “very hilly.” For the record, I, too, go for really long walks. I call it “going outside and getting lost, then accosting strangers to ask for a ride home.” Your brain said, “Oh, what a beautiful morning, oh, what a beautiful day,” while your calves said, “Shorten, lengthen, shorten, lengthen.” See how stiff your calves are in conversation?

K: Concerning stretching, Alexandra is onto something. Post walking, stretch your calves and imagination by holding a position in which your toes are higher than your ankle — aka dorsiflexion. Hold it, hold it, hold it. Now switch legs.

Next, pay attention to your foot action as you go uphill. Did you bend at the ankle, getting your heel to the ground with each stride? Pick that answer. Or did you basically head uphill on the balls of your feet, bending forward from the hip or spine? If so, your calves were in contraction throughout the walk and transforming into steers of steel. No bull.

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Now for the big finish: Next time — and there will be a next time, doncha know — really break your record and do something cardio for a third day in a row. Yes, walk again within 24 hours even if only for 10 minutes so that you elevate your core temperature and minimize muscle soreness. Fancy names and accurate terms cost extra. But for you — free today.

The term is DOMS — Delayed Onset of Muscles Soreness. Or, Darn Old Muscles —Stretch! When you suddenly up the ante on muscle use (different from Aunty Tibby), those muscles are prone to soreness. But if you reheat them before DOMS sets in, you reduce that stiffness. And I am all about reheating unless Alexandra is cooking. Then I get it fresh.

To make this super simple: Walk, walk, stretch, drink water, head home, sleep my pretty, sleep, wake, walk again until warm, stretch, call us in the morning. With that gift.

A: Kymberly is right; I am fresh. And onto something. Known as my stretched butt. DOMS — Don’t Offer Money to Sis.

Dear readers: How have you dealt with muscle soreness? What do you wish DOMS stood for?

— Identical twins and fitness pros Kymberly Williams-Evans and Alexandra Williams have been in the fitness industry since the first aerobics studio opened on the European continent. They teach, write, edit, emcee and present their programs worldwide on land, sea and airwaves, including AM 1490 at 6:20 p.m. on Sunday nights. They co-write Fun and Fit: Q and A with K and A from their home base in Santa Barbara. You can currently find them in action leading classes at Spectrum Uptown and Goleta and at UCSB. Kymberly is the former faculty minor adviser at UCSB for its fitness instruction degree offered through the Department of Exercise & Sport Studies; Alexandra serves as an instructor and master teacher for the program. Fun and Fit answers real questions from real people, so please send your comments and questions to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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