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Be sweet to your own heart!

So today is Valentine’s Day. I know a lot of people take issue with this day and the implied pressure it brings. Personally, it’s one of my favorite holidays. It’s about LOVE! What’s not to love?


Well, if you don’t currently have a “love interest,” maybe it’s not so much fun… which is what I thought as I made my way through Feb. 14th after Feb. 14th as a young person. So sometime during college, I decided to take back Valentine’s Day and make it my own. No more would my best friend and I share a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and lament our single status. (Well, actually, that’s not true. We still used the excuse to eat lots of ice cream.) We gathered ingredients, spent the day baking, and then zipped around to friends’ houses delivering packages of Valentine Cheer. Particularly our single friends.

I am married now and so I have a guaranteed date, but for me V-Day is still a holiday about spreading the love. And that leads me to the real reason for this post…

Your heart.

The Heart with a capital H

Not the glittered symmetrical symbol on a shiny pink card, but the muscle beating in your chest. One of your most important organs, although it’s arguable that precious few organs are expendable. The really key thing about the heart, though, is that IT has the responsibility for getting the oxygen-rich blood circulated all the way through every part of your body to feed all of your cells.  Or does it?

There’s no doubt the heart pumps and pushes blood around. But it doesn’t have to be the only woman on the job; your other (skeletal) muscles also have a part to play. As a muscle is actively used, it knows it wants more food, so it opens up all the little capillaries to allow the blood in. As they open, they create a change in pressures, so the blood actually gets pulled into them!  That makes the job quite a bit easier on your heart. And it’s pretty cool to visualize, too.

So they key to this system is to make sure every muscle is being actively used, so that they all open up their blood vessels, so the blood gets pulled in everywhere. It’s a much more efficient system than trying to just use the heart and hoping it can push hard enough. (It can’t. Even if you work hard to “strengthen” it, which is a different post.)

This is where alignment comes in.

How do you make sure that every last little (or big) muscle is being used? Well, lots of whole-body movement, of course, but it is a bit more complicated than that. The muscles need to be at their correct length, which means stretching some and strengthening others. Making sure that every muscle really is getting used, not just the ones you use the most. Just using your body *more* in the ways that you are already using it probably won’t accomplish the task. However, it’s almost certainly in your best interest to move more in general. To find out specific ways you can change your movements to make them more active for your muscles, take a Restorative Exercise™ class!  And, there are lots of helpful posts in the blogs listed on the right. Here’s one about standing, and here’s one about sitting (one of my favorite laugh-out-loud-posts), to get you started.

And so you really understand how important every single muscle is, no matter how small, here’s an exercise to try to get started right now. Shed your shoes and socks and try to spread your toes as wide as you can. You have muscles for that very purpose… can you communicate with them? Then try to lift your toes. All together, then one at a time. Can you feel the blood rushing down to your poor oxygen-starved toe muscles?



Lifting just the big toe

Happy Valentine’s Day, toes.

Happy Heart Day, heart. Here’s to letting you off the hook a little bit.


Human heart photo by ddpavumba courtesy of



  1. Debbie,
    You are such a sweetheart! Thanks for this heartwarming and educational post. Hmmm. Do you see the 3 hearts in this message?

    Happy V-Day!


  2. Hi Alexa! If there were supposed to be actual hearts in your message, I don’t see them. But I’m feelin’ the love, 100%. Thanks! Happy Valentine’s Day to you!


  3. Barbara Lebeck

    Interesting post – got me thinking about some things I just might start working on. :)


  4. I am jealous of your feet! I just pulled out Katy’s foot book again yesterday. I’ve got to start incorporating more of those exercises. I most definitely cannot spread my toes as you’ve demonstrated above. Yikes.


    • HAHA! Alison, those are the tootsies of my dear children. ALthough, I think I’m not half bad at the toe-spreading…


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