View Full Version : sore feet / ankles when sitting in seiza

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11-14-2008, 05:18 PM
Can anyone give me some advice what stretches or remedies they have on overcomming this? I am new to Aikido, up to my sixth lesson and on the last lesson I could not sit in the seiza position at all, I had to sit cross legged. I just cramp up and my feet / ankles are very sore for days after the lesson and have been getting worst.

Please any help would be greatly appreciated.:)

11-14-2008, 06:56 PM
this is very common--happened to me.
I would assume that--like a lot of folks, your feet/ankles will get used to it. I even experienced the chain from unusual sensation-to pain- to normal-- and then to a stage i didnt expect: that of my feet/ankles actually craving the posture.

Only 6 sessions in; you should give it more time before coming to any conclusions.

(PS, wait till you experience nikkyo for the 300th time!)

-good luck

11-14-2008, 08:45 PM
You could look at how other people do it too - sometimes just little things like scootching your heels a little more in under your butt (rather than letting your butt sink too far between your feet) can take a lot of pressure off your knees. Sometimes if my feet are uncomfortable, I'll also just rise to live toes for a second and set back down, and my feet seem to arrange themselves more comfortably. As Dave9 said, it takes some getting used to; however, being 'very sore for days' after might make me nervous - where on your feet is it sore, and what kind of pain?

Mark Uttech
11-15-2008, 05:06 AM
Onegaishimasu. Learning to sit in seiza takes time. In my experience, sitting cross-legged only aggravates the knees. You would do well to check out a study Janet Rosen did on aikiweb on "Knees and Aikido." Good luck.

In gassho,


11-20-2008, 10:49 AM
It's definitely something you should talk to your instructor about if it is getting worse. You shouldn't feel like you have to sit that way to the point you are uncomfortable for days afterward. You should be able to sit comfortably.

Some questions about your situation: How long are you sitting in seiza in any gtiven class? Have you been sitting in sieza longer in subsequent classes? Or are you still sitting in seiza the same amount of time? It could be that because you are sitting in seiza for longer periods of time in class, it hurts more simply because you are sitting that way more.

I can't sit in seiza much past 10 minutes at a time at this point, even though I'm very flexible and have been training a year. But we're up off the mat so frequently in my dojo that there are few times in class where I'm in seiza more than 5 minutes at a time.

Stretching my calves and hamstrings helps me. Your instructor may have some suggestions for stretches.

Also, just sitting that way for a few minutes here and there outside of class to get used to the feeling has helped me. But only to the point where it just becomes uncomfortable, and certainly not to the point where it is painful.

Also, the first few months of aikido are painful. Especially if you are new to exercise, but even if you already have a good level of fitness, you will be working muscles you didn't know you have. This could just be some "delayed onset muscle soreness." Which can be as painful as anything.

Something else that may help you is to try to be observant of your body when you sit that way to try to find out "why" it hurts. Other than the obvious "I'm putting all the weight of my upper body on my feet and ankles." ;)

For example, My husband, who trains with me, has huge difficulties sitting in seiza because of flexiblity issues and previous muscle development (was a fencer, has huuuge calves.

He pretty much balances his entire weight on his shins, and is unable to actually sit down. The fact that he's able to last as long as he does in that position is stunnig to me. If I had to sit like he does I could probably last 2, 3 minutes, tops.

Janet Rosen
11-20-2008, 12:30 PM
Onegaishimasu. Learning to sit in seiza takes time. In my experience, sitting cross-legged only aggravates the knees. You would do well to check out a study Janet Rosen did on aikiweb on "Knees and Aikido." Good luck.

Mark, thanks for the plug.
My post-surgery, highly arthritic knee that I won't go into seiza with is actually pretty happy sitting cross-legged for the 5 to 10 minute lengths of time it takes to bow in, do some breathing exercises, or to sit and watch the instructor demo technique.

The cross-legged pose I've had orthopedic folks give me anecdotal stories of injury on is the lotus position with the legs really torqued to cradle each other, and that was a couple of examples of torn meniscus. Same way some very unlucky folks will tear a meniscus just getting up off the floor.

I think that for most people within the normal spectrum of health and flexibility, when it is a new position for them there is discomfort with seiza in various parts of the foot/ankle/knee/leg. This should feel like the discomfort accompanying ANY new body use/movement, and I advocate small slow incremental increases in time spent so the body can accomodate, rather than trying to tough out long sessions that can lead to chronic pains.

Sam Turnage
11-20-2008, 02:40 PM
I have the same problem and it is not time or not being flexible. ankles hirt bad. Just mix up your sitting and keep training.

don't agravate it.

11-23-2008, 06:28 PM
Thanks for all the info, it is the top of my feet that hurt, there must be a muscle there or something. It even hurts when I stand on one foot and bend my leg back to my butt and hold my foot by my toes, as if you are sitting in seiza. The same section on my foot hurts