We all get tight from time to time, feel back pain…
So what can we do right now to feel better?
Here are my top 3 fitness fixes
#1 – Mobility (hip flexibility)
Most of us are soooo tight that we are not even moving the right joints when we move!
What!????? Think about that for a second….
Our body is a master at compensating. If there is tightness in a muscle group that requires mobility (like the hip flexors)… Then it will look for that mobility somewhere else in the body (usually the next joint above or below).
In the case of our hips, that typically means the lower back is now compensating and activating more to create the movement that is lacking in the hip flexors below and is often why we get so tight there!
In training, the muscle that turns on first will get the majority of the benefit from the movement or exercise (the law of first tension), so if you are turning your back muscles on repeatedly from doing daily non exercise movement such as walking or sitting it is going to feel tight!!!!
The lumbar spine region of your body is designed for stability, the hips are designed for mobility. Let the hips do their thing and move!!!!
Here’s how to get more out of stretching your hip flexors.
- Engage your muscles! By engaging the deep core muscles and the glutes, you will be relaxing the hip flexors and be able to get in a deeper stretch.
- Have your foot out in front more so that you can lean in to get a deeper stretch if you need to feel it more (like the image above).
- Focus on staying as tall as possible without arching your back.
- As you exhale see if you can sink into the stretch a little deeper.
The big takeaway from mobility and stretching…
If it doesn’t challenge you it doesn’t change you! So be present in your mobility! Tense your muscles and challenge the position!
To further exemplify how important mobility is, I want you to think of your body as a credit card…
(You know when it expires and you get a new one in the mail and instead of cutting it up with scissors you see if you can snap it by bending it back and forth a bunch of times until it eventually breaks…)
This is what happens with most people in the gym. If you’ve moved bad for awhile, are tight, or spending 23 hours of your day in a poor position, one movement could be the one that finally snaps the credit card.
And injuries mean you can’t train. Can’t get results, and may make you afraid of pushing yourself hard for fear of getting injured again.. It’s a vicious cycle. The only way out is mobility AND …
#2 – Stability (2 min plank)
I love the statement: “Proximal stability affects distal mobility” (proved by science).
What it means is:
- The stronger and more stable your core and the muscles associated with your core are; the more mobility you will have in the arms and legs, as the body will not proactively tighten up your arms and legs to protect itself from injury.
- The body will create more tension/tightness in the shoulder, elbow, knee, hip, ankle joints if it does not have sufficient core stability to protect itself.
Yep, that’s a plank.
And if you are not at the level of performing a 2 min plank, Dr. Stuart Mcgill, a professor of spine biomechanics at the University of Waterloo, states that you are at dramatically higher risk for a variety of low back and health issues.
- We need to work smarter not harder.
- We need to train in the gym (not workout).
- We need to stop the bootcamp mindset and think befit. We need to be actively present on every rep of every set.
- We think about picking up weights cautiously, but then on our last rep, round like a cat and put the weight down foolishly.
It’s the power of habit.
Get your mindset in the state of making every rep of every set the hardest and the last rep of your life and you will make your workouts harder, safer (due to lighter weight and slower speed), and create a body that is a calorie burning furnace.
And if you don’t have a 2 min plank right now, it could be a good thing to work on daily? Do a plank a day. It doesn’t have to be your all time best, but it can be a solid effort.
(And, I also have a sneaking suspicion about their being planks at bootcamp daily…)
#3 – Breathing
Yes, we are all doing it right now!!! But are we doing it properly and efficiently?
You’d be surprised how many people I catch breathing improperly..
Here’s a quick 30 sec video on diaphragm breathing.
Breathing properly through your diaphragm will:
1. Create more core stability
2. Reduce stress on your neck because you are not using your accessory muscles like the scalene, sternocleidomastoid and trapezius, which are found around the shoulders and neck (are these tight for you???? It could be telling you something)…
pause for effect….
Get more air in and out of your body which is important because:
- You will work out harder because you are getting more oxygen to your muscles
- Fat is exhaled out of our body through breathing (Yes, most fat is exhaled out as carbon dioxide – so if you are not breathing hard in a workout/post workout you are missing out on a fat loss opportunity)!
Committed to your success,
Josh Saunders, BSc, CSCS
The Bootcamp Effect