The Muscle-Emotional Connection Of The Legs
Cover Photo By Clem Onojeghuo
By Emily A. Francis
Your legs carry you forward in your life. That is a simple and true statement all the way around. Upon looking closer into the musculature of the legs however, the different muscle groups support this movement in different yet intrinsic ways. If you are someone who spends a quality amount of time in introspection and goal setting, you might notice that your legs act up or calm down as you get in full alignment with your next right step in your decision-making process. If you have not yet linked how your legs are feeling and moving with the choices you are making, this is a wonderful time to begin to draw the connections to help listen to the wisdom of the muscle body more closely and learn to use it as a guide to where our mental game might be.
The Leg Joints
The joints in the legs from the hips, knees and ankles hold a vast amount of knowledge on where you mentally are at any given time once you know what to start looking for. Starting with the very top of the legs at the hip joints. Emotionally and energetically speaking, it is the gathering place in order for any decision to formed and then carried out and moved into what do we want in our lives. This is the defining information between what we want and what we are willing to do in order to go get it. The hip area is the gathering place for information. I consider it an energetic and emotional listening station. Tapping into your hips and feeling if they are on board with what you are wanting to do or not can be quite telling.
Jumping past the quads and hamstrings as well as the abductors and adductors for a moment, let’s take a look at the emotional component of the knees. When we find that we are having trouble making a decision in our lives and it feels like we are standing in quicksand at the fork in the road, our knees will start to act up. Even if you are not one to be prone to knee issues, you may begin to notice swelling in the knees or aching in the knees or you may find yourself injuring the knees and banging the knees into objects in a way that is not usual for you.
Your knees are what take you forward or keep you stuck and it begins with the mind. When you make a clear decision on something and begin to put the steps in motion to make it come to life, you will find some relief in those knees. This does not apply to actual knee injuries such as a torn ACL or MCL that require surgical repair, but it is a very likely emotion source and insight into why this particular area is having so many issues. When clients come to me and say things like, “my knees feel achy and that’s never happened before,” I’ll probe them for information on if they are facing a big decision and feeling stuck trying to figure out their next steps in life and almost every single time that answer is a resounding “yes.”
Skipping for a moment now to the calve muscles and the anterior tibialis on the front of the leg to the ankles we check into our proverbial sweet spots. The ankles represent the sweetness in life and if we are limiting things that bring us pleasure or joy, it’s the ankles that may start to act up. Broken up into pieces it all seems random, but upon closer inspection, it all relates. Now we will go back to the muscle areas and discuss how they play in with these decisions in your life, covering where you are currently versus where you wish to be.
The Muscle-Emotion Component from the Hips to Knees
Here is what I’ve found through 15 years of testing, hypothesizing, inquiring and treating when it comes to the muscle groups of the legs. Starting with the quadriceps muscle group, they are the protectors. The quads help a person jump up or stop fast. These muscles protect you when you are in a place of feeling stuck and don’t know yet which way to go. When you are in a space of making a decision that needs to be made, the hips point the way and the knees take you through but the quads are the mode of transport that will get you there. These are muscles that represent trust and power. If you are in alignment between the mind and the heart, trust that the quads will move you and take care of you. If you are in a particular state of feeling lost, chaotic or confused, the quads will feel heavier in your body. You can’t quite feel the same amount of power from the powerhouse muscles.
The hamstrings on the back side of the legs are not very emotional I’ve found. They are tight in general. I think of this muscle group as the bodyguard muscles of the lower body. The are strong, tight, protective and can seem quite stoic. I feel like the energy of the hamstrings is one of a strong, grouchy bodyguard that never quite cracks that smile. The hamstrings are closely linked to the tightness of the entire line from the glutes down to the feet. It’s important in our quest of moving forward in our lives to give our hamstrings as much support as they give to us. Be willing to bend a little and wear good footwear. Even easy things such as sitting your bottom up against a wall and putting your legs straight up against the wall to simply allow these muscles to let go a little bit.
Looking at the inner (adductor) and outer (abductor) muscles, these act in alignment with their physical actions. The adductors bring the legs into the center line. These protect the vulnerable genital area as well as the bones, arteries, veins and ligaments. This is a super charged area of the body and the muscles that protect them are no different. The abductor muscles bring the legs out wide from the center line. I group the IT band into this same muscle group. They tend to be less rigid and more flexible when the mind is in the place of the same. Stretch this area and ask questions of yourself while stretching such as, “What is my goal for the next best step ahead in my life? Are we all in line and in agreement with this decision?”
The Muscle-Emotion from the Knees to the Ankles
Going below the knee into the calves is the heart of the matter when it comes to the muscle/emotional connection. If you make a decision and your heart just is not in it, you will likely feel this in the calves. Physically the calf muscles pump blood back up to the heart. Notice the two lobes of the gastrocs that look like an upside-down heart in the calves. The calves as a group correspond to the heart energy that you carry in everything that you do. Be mindful when you are connecting into this space in your body. The gastrocs, no matter who you are and what workout you participate in, are sensitive. Be especially kind to this area and treat it well. Stretch, strengthen and check in with this space and how it feels from day to day and begin to match your emotions to the physical feeling of these wild old heart shaped muscles. Moving to the front side of the lower legs next to your shin bone is the anterior tibialis. Moving into the tibialis can feel intense, because this muscle is all about intensity. This is the part that assists you when you finally make that decision to move. Lift your big toe and feel the muscle show itself to you, just the way it will when you finally pick up that whole foot and take that first step into a clear and confident path into the next best step for where you are in your life.
Though the feet have muscles, we look at the feet differently as they serve as the maps. The feet have a starting and ending point of the meridian channels of energy throughout the body. They are the perception places just as the palms of the hands are. The feet take in energy and feel their surroundings from any outside source and illustrate the map from your inside source. They are the finders and the keepers of the wisdom from outside ourselves and from within. Sacred practices such as toe reading and reflexology can share many insights into the feet and your emotional health. Being barefoot and walking outside (earthing it is referred) can have a significant effect on your overall health. The feet pull in the sacred earth energy and they release your own body energy as well. The feet are all about your path. Every significant experience of life will show up on your hands and feet. Sometimes when we feel all alone and lost in the world, we can gain an incredible amount of clarity through our hands and feet. (Inside my book is a toe reading offering from Cheryl Speen, toe reader and instructor at the Southwest Institute Of Healing Arts).
Your legs are all about your path in life. When you are in a place of needing to make a decision in your life, gather your information (hips), move your legs in the direction of choice (knees) and enjoy every part of the process (ankles). Indecision can be exhausting in every way. Having any pain, strain, swelling or heaviness in your legs requires more introspection depending on where in the legs you are feeling the issues arise. Hopefully this article supplied you with a starting point that can help guide you into a stronger physical and emotional connection with your muscle body.
Please note that I have not in any way listed every muscle in the legs. View this article as a solid overview and not a full deep dive into the anatomy. For more detailed information, please see my book The Body Heals Itself: How Deeper Awareness of Your Muscles and Their Emotional Connect can Help You Heal.
Onward and upward we go!