Let’s keep the holiday train rolling along. In Part 1, we discussed just getting moving more using dynamic warm-ups. If you did not check it out yet, you can peruse at your leisure at http://www.ebmfitnesssolutions.com/blog/howtodominatetheholidayspart1.
In Part 2, we are going to look at a bunch of different stretches that you can utilize to avoid ending up a complete ball of stress and knots come January.
1/2 kneeling hip flexor stretch
A lot of sitting is not a good thing. A lot of muscles and joints can get tight as a result. One of those muscles in the hip flexor. Add this stretch anywhere it fits into your day. If you sit a lot at work, try squeezing this stretch into your workday somewhere, if possible.
Dynamic hip adductor stretch
Your adductors (inner part of the thigh) can be tight and not always present as a problem. I used to notice a lot of muscle soreness in these muscles after I squatted during a workout. Since I started stretch a bit more (and modified my stance) I no longer have any problem.
This video contains three videos. The second and third are progressions from the first. Start with the first video and go from there.
This is one of my favorite stretches and might be one of the best in terms of getting a lot done with one movement.
NOTE. If you are unsure about this one or are not comfortable performing it on the floor, it can be done at a bit of an incline (using a bench at a gym or the couch or bed at home).
Do not force any part of the movement. Go with watchya got. You will feel this in the front if the hip on the back leg and into the butt on the leg that is forward.
Quadruped glute stretch
Stretching the glutes is often necessary to relieve said tightness in the hip and/or low back areas. The problem is that many stretches that target the glutes and deep hip rotators require a lot of torque on the knee and excessive twisting of the spine. If only there was a better way.......
The quadruped glute stretch solves these issues. It allows a good stretch through your tight butt, but it does not torque the knee or twist the spine. Halle-freaking-lujah!
Standing hamstring stretch
Stretching the hamstrings is one of the more common stretches people perform and probably the one most commonly butchered. Do not worry. It is probably not your fault you are terrible at it. I have discussed this very idea before (http://www.ebmfitnesssolutions.com/blog/properhamstringstretch).
Most people set up wrong and move too much when trying to stretch the hamstrings. Quick anatomy lesson. The hamstrings (there are 3) run from the bottom of the butt to the sides of the knee. Lesson over.
If you are stretching the hamstrings and you feel pulling in your calf, something in your head should light up as you remember the hamstrings stop at the knee.
Do you know what does go all the way down the back of the thigh and into the calf? Your SCIATIC NERVE. Yup, that burning you feel in the calf when stretching your hamstrings is neural tension.
When your ankles do not move like they need to, it is only a matter of time until you have issues with some other part of the body. It could be your knee, hip or back and it could even be on the opposite of the tight ankle.
You can stretch muscles regularly but if the joint these muscles act on is restricted or tight, then all that stretching will still leave you will a restricted or tight joint. If only there was a better way.......
Dorsiflexion mobilizations solve both joint and muscles issues at the same time. Shut. The. Front. Door.
Standing thoracic mobility
Our thoracic spine (that juicy piece of real estate between the neck and low back) needs to have good mobility. Sadly, it is stiff as bamboo in most people.
Some of the issues that result are:
-tightness in the upper back
-difficulty turning the head and neck
-pain when turning the head
-decreased shoulder range of motion
None of those things are any good. And if you try and treat those issues without dealing with the thoracic spine, you will never get complete resolution of the symptoms.
Standing quad stretch
If your thighs (quads) are truly tight, I suggest using something to rest your foot on instead of grabbing the leg to stretch the quad. I also suggest using rollers or something to maintain balance. Squirmy and hopping around trying to maintain your balance makes you look ridiculous and isn't helpful. You're not at the club.
This setup also allows you to lean forward, which will help to get the leg onto the bench. If your quads are tight, this is a big deal.
Once the leg is on the bench, stand tall. This may give you enough of a quad stretch. If so, just hang out here. If not, squeeze your butt muscles on the side of the stretch. This will definitely give you a better stretch in the quad.
Standing lat stretch
This stretch just feels good to do. But, it also serves some greater functionality too. Bonus!
The lats run from the low back (a fancy area know as the thoracolumbar fascia - I swear that is not a made up word) up to the upper arm. So, when they are tight they can impact both the low back and shoulder areas.
If you lift both arms overhead and find that you low back arches more as your arms get higher, you lats may be tight. There may be other things at play too, but stretching your lats is an easy first step, it feels good and you are not going to damage anything trying this one.
Well, there you have it. Part 2 gives you a bunch of options that you can apply to start getting your pain-free body back so you can get back to doing things that currently cause you pain.
If you have not done so yet, download your 7-Day Strength and Mobility Reboot. This guide takes stretches like these (and others) and gives you a specific 7-day plan on how to integrate them.
You would be crazy not to grab a copy.
Part 3 will share some specific workouts that you can do during the craziness that is the holiday season.
These workouts are all meant to be done quickly. Some require no equipment and others can be quick workouts done with equipment at home or a gym.
Until next time,