We have all been shouted at one time or another to keep our heels down and if you haven’t count yourself lucky. When questioned as to why our heels get down plus searching the internet I have heard many reasons. It helps keep balance, it makes us safe, it stops your foot from falling through the stirrups, stability, the list is endless. But do they really make sense, that is the question?
Keep your heel down or push your heel down actively mean pushing that body part. Pushing requires muscles which require tension. Now if this is not the effect you are after then we need to re think your wording, because push or keep involve tension, hopefully you agree.
When heels rise up, that’s due to another body part tensing, maybe the calf or thigh because, I don’t know, you’re new to this, or something just scared the shit out of you, but either way another body part has tensed and pulled your heel up.
Que your instructor to tell you to push your heel down. But wait.
If your body is tensing to pull your heel up and now you’re going to tense another body part to push it back down, why didn’t you just release the original tension and let the heel go back to where it belongs, rather than doing more and adding more tension to the mess? Why?
Some people have really tight calves; they need to push their heels down to counter balance this! You are correct, some people do have tighter muscles for whatever reason, but whatever that reason is, it is a muscle tensing or under tension that is creating the heel to draw up. The only way you are going to stop the heel from drawing up in the first place, is to release the tension in that muscle, not add a counter force against it. Because, as soon you relax for one second, your concentration goes else where and you stop counteracting your natural muscle tension; BAM! Your heel has gone right back up again.
Pushing your heel down stops your foot going through the stirrup. Yup I hear you here but did you read what I put before? If your heel is coming up, which you are so correct does put you at risk of your foot falling through the stirrup, do the work to help this muscle relax. If you are a little concenered, there are loads of stirrups on the market that reduce this risk for you. So when your foot is flat and no muscle is pulling in either direction, your foot is flat. Sorry, I know I’m repeating myself, but your foot is flat; that means it’s not sloping forwards or backwards, so it can’t go anywhere, just like when you’re stood on the floor- your feet do not slip forwards of their own accord, unless a muscle is activated and then we correct that. Flat feet will not slip through your stirrups.
Heaven forbid an accident happens heel down encourages your foot to fall from the stirrup and decrease your risk of being dragged. I 100% get that, but is it worth the lack of balance you receive when your heels do go down? Grab the tech. Technology is amazing these days, so you get the best of everything, the best balance (that all comes from you, rockstar.) Relaxed and not over worked muscles and the best tech to help you keep safe when the worst happens.
Let us know in the comments below what you think, I would love to hear your opinion.