I spoke with one of my nutrition coaching clients today and they stated that they feel real guilty when they don’t exercise every single day, and sometimes 2 times a day. While this may seem ridiculous to some people, it is a very common phenomenon that exists in the fitness world. Many minds are flooded with images of 6 pack abs which are flashed all over social media. False hope of getting shredded coils people into the trap of signing up for a program that is all about heavy workouts that yield “shred” with no science to back its claims. If one submerges themselves into a vigorous program every day of the week, their thinking is that perhaps they can look that way. But the fact is, not every body is built the same and not everybody is training for a specific sport or race. Most people, therefore, only need at most 250 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week. If one wishes to get a little more, then they are best off doing more of a restorative plan to prevent injury and overtraining.
According to Pain Management Specialist of LaserMDPainRelief.com, Dr. Harold Kraft, “Vigorous exercise is naturally followed by muscle inflammation. Unless you allow adequate muscle recovery, the inflammation will accumulate, leading to pain and early muscle fatigue. Every exercise program should have a recovery phase built into it.”
For those of you who train hard and play sports, do the following program to achieve adequate muscle recovery as Dr. Kraft mentioned. If you aren’t an athlete and simply live a sedentary lifestyle, then this program is for you too.
It’s best to do these restorative moves in a calm environment with no television, no phone, and no distractions. Just you and perhaps some calming music, lit candles and dimmed light. Calm down your sympathetic nervous system from fight or flight and allow the mind to relax so that the muscles can follow. Restoring your systems back to working in synergy with one another is such a missing link in the fitness industry so I invite you to take these few restorative moves and begin practicing them today.
Hold each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds each. You may repeat twice, especially for those that involve two sides.
Half Pigeon: Bring one knee up to that same side wrist. If your leg cannot go parallel to the front of you mat, then only do what you can do. Slide your back leg underneath your back hip so that your back thigh brushes the floor and your back foot remains relaxed. Lift up through your body and then slowly sink down to relax your upper body. This is a tremendous hip opener. It is also a great opportunity to relax your back, including your neck as you take yourself to “sleeping pigeon”. Switch to the other side.
Cow Face (Legs only): Cross one leg over the other stacking the knees on top of one another. If you’re like me and cannot get your knees directly on top of each other, then energetically aim for that, but do not force your body to achimg_7083ieve that stacking of the knees unless you can. In this pose, we usually lift one arm up over the shoulder and the opposite arm behind your back connecting your palms in back. However, this version of the pose aims at opening up your hips and lateral muscles deep to the IT band which tend to be tight. You will notice I am sitting up tall in my posture working my spinal erectors and keeping my shoulders down and away from my ears. Switch the configuration of your legs so that your bottom leg is now on top.
Prone Spinal Twist: Check out the 3 photo progressions on the Huff Post. First start on your belly. Then bring your right knee towards img_7088your chest (as you do in bed to hug a pillow). Then slide your left shoulder directly underneath you and avoid jamming your shoulder under yourself. Once you thread your left arm underneath you, rotate your chest open to twist through the spine and reach the right arm over towards the opposite wall. You may use your left hand for guidance to keep your right knee fixed on the floor while you twist. If you feel like your neck cannot reach the ground, simply prop a pillow or towel under your neck to offer neck support and neutral alignment of your spine.
Supine Shoulder Extension: This position is simple. The goal is to open your shoulders along with your img_7100thorax which will help improve posture and mobility. If you want more of a stretch, simply lie on a foam roller which will allow an increased range of motion. All you do is lie on your back (supine). With a slight tilt in your pelvis to neutralize the pelvis and lumbar spine, draw your arms directly overhead with your thumbs touching the ground.
Eagle leg Twist: Lying on your back, tightly cross one leg over the next and cause a tourniquet feeling in your hips. You may wrap one foot under timg_7120he opposite calf to complete the bind. Bring your arms out like a “T”. With control, bring your legs to the side. If you don’t have the flexibility to support your legs on the ground, simply use a block or any type of riser that keeps your legs relaxed so that you can experience the full benefits of this position. This restorative move will target the glutes, lower back and rotational plane in the upper body.
Photo Credit: Mr Smith