Of course, rest and relaxation are just as vital for your health (downtime is productive time, as we predicted in 2019!), but it is possible to optimize your activity while sitting or lying down. In fact, some exciting new research4 shows that you can activate the soleus muscle in your calf via a seated “soleus pushup” (SPU), an exercise coined by Marc Hamilton, Ph.D., a professor of health and human performance at the University of Houston. The soleus is a posterior leg muscle that runs from just below the knee to the heel, and when activated correctly, it can elevate muscle metabolism for hours—yes, even while sitting.
“We never dreamed that this muscle has this type of capacity. It’s been inside our bodies all along, but no one ever investigated how to use it to optimize our health, until now,” Hamilton says in a news release. To perform the SPU, keep your feet flat on the floor and muscles relaxed, then raise your heel while keeping the front of your foot on the ground. When the heel gets to the top of its range of motion, then you can release your foot to come back down. (Here’s a video demonstration if you’d like a visual.)
It may sound like a simple heel lift or sitting calf raise, but it’s actually a very specific movement that requires wearable technology that isn’t available to the public quite yet. “The soleus pushup looks simple from the outside, but sometimes what we see with our naked eye isn’t the whole story,” Hamilton adds.
As we wait with bated breath for SPU wearables to hit the mainstream, we can invest in other performance-enhancing technologies in the meantime. For example, Forme’s lineup of FDA-approved, posture-correcting garments—including their Sculpt+ Legging Luxe waistband technology, which launched this October—actually helps you fix your alignment in real-time.
“Posture is the foundation for your health and performance. Your daily form is everything for active living,” orthopedic surgeon Stephen Liu, M.D., the founder of Forme, tells mbg. “When you have proper posture, your bones and joints are in alignment, which puts less stress on the spinal joints and allows your muscles to work more efficiently… Slumped posture compresses the lungs and GI tract, making it more difficult to digest the food you eat and breathe comfortably.”
Forme’s posture wearables naturally engage muscle memory to correct alignment, alleviate neck tension, lengthen the lumbar spine, and help open the chest for better breathing. “Once you wear Forme for a few weeks, your muscle memory will train and learn what good posture is when sitting in an office or working from home,” says Liu, which then sets the stage for better metabolic and muscular health. A pretty good deal, considering all you have to do is shimmy into some chic athleticwear.