Can you think of a time when your problems seemed insurmountable? In a world where our happiness is so crucial to our overall well-being, behavioral tools can be helpful. If you’re struggling with goals like eating better, sleeping or exercising more or reducing stress, how do you even start? How do you shrink your problems and jump through the hurdles that have been holding you back ?
Experts say that there are two key ways to take the first steps to create change to kick-start your goals.
Shrink the problem
The problem for some is that a plan of attack for fat loss might be a declaration of, for instance, to eat less, stop eating sugar, or eat clean.
This is a principle, a big word for the framework for our actions. All of our daily decisions, like helping a neighbor or spoiling our children and pets to no end, are principles we live by. When it comes to our overall health, like the goal of fat loss, we know that our lifestyle habits and behavior is determined by what we do, rather than a principle. In other words, you need an action. Eat less desert after dinner, or, set the alarm for 6:30 in order to brisk walk for 45 minutes. By eliminating a principle, such as eat clean, in which you may have no idea how to fit in, in the real world, you’ve relinquished any guilt you might have at blowing your promise over birthday cake, by taking an action, eat less desert after dinner.
When you’re struggling, yet desire to make a health change, experts suggest a temporal landmark. Temporal landmarks are big words for any distinct events that stands out from everyday stuff. The landmarks are a social timetable, like the first of the month, a 50th birthday, or wedding. It has been found, too, that a temporal landmark like a Monday, for example, can help you start or restart a new gym habit. This initiation opportunity promotes a focus on the big picture. Behavioral science shows that by psychologically separating you from your past failures, a temporal landmark, like going to the gym on Monday, promotes a clean slate. You’ll become more motivated to think about long term goals and their importance, and your new found priorities, however busy you may be. Here’s to a summer of health, armed with a new behavioral toolkit.
The ability to turn your head, or easily look up should be a movement you take for granted. Yet as we age, neck pain is common. Like the rest of the body, bones in the neck change, as surfaces of them become rougher, and discs that cushion the cervical spine deflate.
Your neck may feel stiff and sore as a result of arthritis and stiffness. A pair of facet joints run down the back of your cervical spine, each lined with cartilage, and surrounded by a capsule filled with synovial fluid. However, as cartilage thins and wears away, there is less fluid. The result is bone-on-bone friction occurring in your facet joints. As well, the discs that cushion the bones of the neck and head lose their plumpness and the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other soft tissues are compromised.
The multiple muscles of the neck make for a very mobile structure, yet neck pain limits functional range of motion. The neck pain you feel is all too common, being that the neck muscles are hyper-alert to the many pain receptors in this area of the body. Take care of your neck with the following 5 stretches that you can do just about anywhere.
Child’s Pose with extended arms
Kneeling, stretch your hands as far away from you as possible. Slowly lift your head to look up towards your hands. Hold for 20 seconds, 2-3 times. This move stretches the neck extensors located on the back of the neck and upper back: semispinalis capitis, semispinalis cervicis, and splenius capitis. Interestingly, the later muscle acts as a glue that holds the head firmly to the neck. The name comes from the Latin words spleniummeaning “plaster” and capitis meaning “ of the head.”
Neck Extensors Stretch ( no photo, but don’t miss this one ! )
This stretch helps release tightness in the neck extensors. Place your hands on the crown of your head, keeping the elbows together. Pull your shoulders down. Gently pull your chin to your chest to feel the stretch in the back of the neck and shoulders. Hold for 15-20 seconds; 2-3 cycles at least once a day.
1.Using a chair: Sit tall on a chair and firmly grip the seat. Slowly bend your neck away from your hand grasping the chair. Engage your lower traps and rhomboids (middle back ) to help pull the shoulder into correct alignment.
2. Standing, drape a band across the top the shoulder, keeping tension on the band. Slowly bend your neck away from the banded shoulder, Hold for 15-20 seconds at least 1x day, preferably 2-3 a day.
Place your first 2 fingers horizontally along your jaw. Using your hand to assist, turn your head to one side. Hold 15-20 seconds. Repeat 2-3 cycles. Repeat the stretch going the opposite direction.
Think of a time when you felt anxious and stressed. Stress is impossible to avoid; bills, job demands or challenging relationships all contribute to taxing your nervous system. But the easiest and quickest way to calm your mind is to simply breathe in and out.
When you breathe deeply, you refresh your mind and improve your lung function. The simple act of inhaling and exhaling decreases the sympathetic nervous system response and leaves you feeling more relaxed.
Worry and stressful situations can trigger a cascade of stress hormones that make the heart pound and muscles tense, known as “fight or flight.” The National Cancer Institute describes it as a group of changes that occur in the body to help a person fight or take flight in stressful or dangerous situations. This is the body’s way of helping to protect itself from possible harm. During fight or flight, certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, are released into the blood. This causes an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. Other changes include an increase in blood sugar, alertness, muscle tension and sweating.
Fight or flight served us well on the savannah, but on a daily basis we can’t be continually running from tigers. The simple act of breathing with focused intent can help you relax and feel better.
At rest we only use about 20% of our lung capacity and barely utilize the muscles of our breathe. The American Lung Association indicates that when the diaphragm is not working at full capacity, the body starts to use other muscles in the back, neck and chest for breathing. This means that there is less reserve for exercise and activity, and lower available oxygen levels.
So, how do you take a deep breath?
Although many people feel a deep breath comes solely from expansion of the chest, chest breathing (in of itself) is not the best way to take a deep breath. To get a full deep breath, learn how to breathe from the diaphragm while simultaneously expanding the chest.
Yoga teaches that by breathing this way: a vertical extension, a horizontal expansion and a circumferential extension of the rib cage, chest and lungs shows that the lungs are being filed to their maximum capacity.
Breath is life. Yoga teaches that breathing is a prayer of gratitude we offer to life itself. B.K.S Iyengar, one of the most influential yoga teachers in America, compares leaves moving in the wind to how our mind moves with our breath. When your breath is regulated, there is a neutralizing effect on the mind. Activating the deep breath will decrease your parasympathetic nervous system and leave you feeling more relaxed and in control of your emotions.
It’s not only yogis who know the benefits of remaining calm and focused by practicing breathing. Navy SEALS use controlled breathing techniques in their military training programs as a valuable tool for their soldiers. Facing crisis, high pressure and uncertain circumstances, one of techniques the SEALS use is easy to learn and powerful, called box breathing.
Sometimes referred to as square breathing, box breathing is a practical technique to start with. You can practice it anywhere and at any time; however, it’s best to sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor, or lying down, to learn. Try to tune out extraneous sounds, as you close your eyes and listen to your breath. Notice the natural rhythm of your breathing for a few cycles. Now you are ready to begin your box breathing.
Breathe out slowly, releasing all the air from your lungs.
Breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to four in your head. Be conscious of how the air fills your lungs and stomach.
Hold your breath for a count of four.
Exhale for another count of four.
Repeat steps 1 to 4 for three to four rounds.
For visualization, while you are box breathing, imagine as though the box is being traced by a colored crayon or imaginary marker. For each of the four lines you draw, switch colors of the box’s outline. For meditation, you can add an affirmation, such as “I am relaxed,” as you breath by syncing it with your breath, rather than counting.
Continue practicing your breathing technique whenever you think of it. Your breath is always with you, as is life itself.
Even if you visit your gym frequently, plyometric moves might be new to you. If you want to improve your overall fitness and burn calories, look to plyometric exercises for improved performance and power.
Power is the ability to produce large amounts of force quickly.
For every sport, unless you’re an equestrian athlete, or kayaker, your skill starts by your feet pushing into the ground or firm object that returns force back through you.
Plyometric is a quick powerful movement involving pre-stretching that activates the stretch shortening cycle. Plyometric exercises are also referred to as reactive training. The ultimate goal of reactive training is to increase the reaction time of the rate of force production. An explosive tennis serve, better basketball, golf swing, or a faster running gait are all examples of sports in which you could benefit from this type of training. It can also enhance how you react to ground surfaces throughout the day in simple daily activities. Quickly responding to an unexpected change, like ice, when stepping off a curb or rapidly changing direction when walking your dog on a leash are both examples of daily encounters when you’ll want to have better reaction time.
We all need vigorous levels of physical activity to maximize bone mass throughout our lives. Incorporating plyometric exercises is also extremely valuable in post-rehab and for a safe return to play.
Plyometrics, in its purest form, are meant to be all-out, quality efforts in each repetition of an exercise. Although commonly thought of as only muscular activity, the nervous system is intrinsically linked. The exercises heighten the excitability of the nervous system for improved reactive ability of the neuromuscular system, a benefit for both pro athletes and the rest of us.
Before incorporating plyometric exercises into your training, it is important to have good flexibility, motor control, core strength, and balance capabilities. If you can’t do it slowly, you can’t do it fast!
Be proficient in exercises such as step-ups and different kinds of squats before practicing, and start with plyometric exercises that are low intensity. Bounding or footwork patterns are a good place to start. Like hopscotch, they are fun and challenging.
Before any kind of jump, know that landing strategies are crucial. You should land in a partial squat. A partial squat is a position with feet shoulder-width apart and the bodyweight centered over a stable base of support. Bearing weight symmetrically, a stable base of support means that the trunk is relatively upright over the legs (or leg) with slight flexion of the ankle, knee, and hips.
The exercise selection is vast, as you would start with moves that are easy to complex, stable to unstable, body weight to loaded, to activity specific.
Plyometric training isn’t only limited to lower body training. Moves such as wall throws plyometric push-ups, or jump-squat with a chest pass are other examples.
Photos in article below~
As published in The Idaho Mountain Express- Fitness Guru
We need sleep and it’s best in moderation, like most things in life. According to studies recently published in the journal Brain, there is a middle range to keep the brain sharp over time, and most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night. The study shows that too little or too much sleep is associated with worse cognitive performance. Good sleep improves your brain function, immune system, mood, and health. Sleep is so important for our overall health that having just one night of sleep loss can significantly impair your daily functioning. More than one-third of U.S. adults sleep fewer than six hours per night. So what really keeps you up at night, and how can you make sleep a priority?
Sleep can be so elusive some nights. Worrying, tension, cluttered thoughts, family concerns, and work-life balance dilemmas can keep us up, although we crave sleep.
Caffeine, bright lights, and room temperature
• For most people, the sleep signal happens after 12-16 hours of being awake. A chemical called adenosine accumulates in the brain during the day. Caffeine, however, blocks and inactivates adenosine receptors, and tricks you into feeling alert. Coffee in foods such as dark chocolate and ice cream, as well as some medications, are also sources of caffeine.
• A laptop screen, smartphone or tablet has a very real impact on your melatonin release, interfering with your natural ability to wind down from a busy day.
• Try turning off half of the lights in your home in the last two hours before bed, and keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.
A colder bedroom helps the body’s core temperature drop by 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit, ensuring a better nights’ sleep.
Let tension go with Yoga Nidre
When you’re trying to sleep, our bodies can be holding tension that we are not even aware of. Yoga Nidre, a meditation technique, is a proven antidote to help with anxiety and sleep. The roots of Yoga Nidre go back thousands of years, but many of today’s yoga leaders have adapted the teachings to make them more accessible to Westerners.
Seated meditation isn’t for everybody, as it is difficult to try to clear your mind and bring your focus back to your breath. Because Yoga Nidre is always guided, it promotes deep rest and relaxation. It can be as short as 10 minutes, or as long as an hour. The focus is to cultivate multiple levels of well-being.
Use a meditation app such as Insight Timer or Calm. Once you find a sleep meditation that appeals to you, and because it is guided, you’ll need headphones. ( Be sure you don’t start scrolling ! ) Lie and rest comfortably in your bed. You are encouraged to move around and get as comfortable as you can as you begin.
While you practice Yoga Nidre, you’re often asked to choose a samskara. Yoga teaches that samskara is the sum total of all our actions that conditions us to believe in a certain way, a habit or thought that is ingrained in us. It can be something positive that you’d like to work on. Through your meditation, you can create this belief to help you live less out of habit and more out of a desire to grow as a person. Ultimately you’ll drift off to sleep.
The best way to keep your fat cells a healthy normal size is to do a resistance training program at least three times a week.
Like it not, we’re stuck with 25-35 billion fat cells, for life. Our immune system breaks down around 10% of fat cells every year, but otherwise all our fat cells are busy expanding and shrinking in size during weight gain and loss. We need fat, as without it, we would freeze. Fat cells are also our fuel tanks, holding on to fatty molecules called lipids, and releasing them as a source of energy for the body. Fat also cushions our vital organs, stores crucial supplies of certain vitamins, and helps us have a functioning immune system.
If you struggle with fat, turning to “gut-busting” diets and fat-burning supplements won’t “burn” fat. Fat cells don’t go away, as they are stored properly in fat cell layers under the skin. Where they are not intended to be is around organs, like the kidneys or heart, or even inside organs.
The best way to keep your fat cells a healthy normal size, and your body weight under control, is to do a resistance training program at least three times a week. Building more skeletal muscle mass and losing fat mass is one of the main reasons athletes and avid exercisers lift weights.
Within a resistance-training program, intensities, volume, and exercise selection all stimulate muscle growth. Your baseline body composition also factors in to the rate of muscle gain and fat loss.
In the first few weeks of training, newcomers to weight lifting see changes and definition in their biceps and butts. New research shows that trained individuals, not just beginners, can continue to build muscle and lose fat at the same time with two key factors: progressive resistance training and evidence-based nutrition strategies.
Mix it up
Recent studies published in the Strength & Conditioning Journal show that trained individuals can get stronger whether you train two days a week or four. In another study, there was no difference in training frequency of three times a week versus six times a week. Using a volume matched power-lifting program, both groups similarly gained a significant amount of fat-free mass and lost fat mass. It was noted that participants didn’t alter their normal nutrition habits for these particular studies.
A little more protein
Typically, to improve athletic performance it’s common practice to eat less for fat loss, and eat more to maximize muscle mass. But studies show that your post workout snack could be key to improve body composition. The authors of the resistance training studies found that approximately 70% of the subjects improved their body composition with a high-protein diet.
In one study, female collegiate volleyball players, all receiving guidance from a sports nutrition/registered dietician, added 25 grams of whey protein immediately after each power-oriented, full-body workout or a strength workout. Whether working to maximize power output, or participating in workouts specifically for strength, all athletes in each group gained muscle and lost fat. Although approaches to diet can vary with each person, the authors noted that a moderate protein intake and a more balanced nutritional approach came out at the top of the list to keep those fat cells where they need to be, no more, no less.
Too much sitting is hard on our bodies and can add to the prevalence of low back pain. Twenty-six bones make up the spinal column with three gentle curves from top to bottom. For many with low back pain, the cumulative effects of constant or repeated small stresses over time, like sitting, result in back pain. Too much sitting, combined with faulty posture, can flatten these curves over time. The spine is designed to function best as a weight-bearing structure, with the lumbar curve in a neutral position. Sitting rounded, or slumped in a seat, multiplies damaging pressure on lower back discs and soft tissues. Another concern is that prolonged sitting chronically shortens the hip flexors. Once again, too much sitting, prevalent in our modern age, has other drawbacks and can cause secondary health concerns, such as high blood pressure and increased risk for diseases like diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disorders.
The good news is that low back pain can dissipate. Body composition, strength of the core musculature and faulty movement patterns are all potential cause of low back pain. Most back pain is easy to reverse; the secret is addressing common musculature imbalances. Too much sway or arch in the lower back, too much bending, weak or overstretched muscles, or poor posture are contributing factors that can be corrected to ensure a healthy back.
If you are in pain, but not dealing with diagnosed or undiagnosed medical issues, nerve impingement, or traumatic injury, you fall into the category of mechanical low-back pain.
Faulty Movement Patterns
The easiest way to fix your own pain is to correct faulty body mechanics. We know we shouldn’t bend wrong, but we do. We bend over wrong picking up laundry, petting the dog, making the bed, or looking at a phone. We work over our desks, drive and ride bent forward every day. Look around the gym and it’s a minefield of bent backs. You’ll see people lifting weights bent over, and bend over wrong to place them back on racks.
The spine is at its strongest, most resilient and most supported position when it is in a state of muscular and skeletal balance, and in a neutral position.
The abdominal brace is an important way to use the core to find neutral position. Bracing, says Dr. Stuart McGill, a leading spine researcher, is a different concept than that of simply holding in your stomach, or “pulling your belly to your spine.” Rather, it’s mild contraction of the abdominal muscles, as though you are preparing for a punch in the mid-section. In his book “Back Mechanic,” he asks his back patients to gradually adjust the amount of contraction to find the optimal stiffness, much like how a dimmer switch gradually adjusts light in a room. Whether you are sitting, walking, or are a high-performance athlete, all movement is orchestrated from this fine-tuned control of the core.
Next time you pick up a package, try to brace your core, hip hinge, and use your gluteus muscles, which help extend the hips to assist in standing up, sparing the lower back from over-use.
Here’s a simple test to see if you have neutral spine alignment, or back sway. Stand barefoot with your back to the wall, with heels, butt and shoulders against the wall. Then try to place one hand, palm down, behind your lower back. If the space is up to and in-line with your second knuckle, you have neutral pelvis. Normally the pelvis is rotated approximately 10 degrees. But if the space is large enough for your whole hand, you have a deviation, an anterior tilt of the pelvis called lumbar lordosis. Tilt the pelvis posteriorly by bringing the front of your waistband up to learn neutral, engaging the core.
Connie Aronson is an ACSM Exercise Physiologist and Corrective Movement Specialist (TBBM-CES) Visit her at www.conniearonson.com and
All -star pitcher Pedro Martinez was one of the lucky players to return to the major leagues after a complete rotator cuff tear, typically a season-ending injury. The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint. Over time, damage to the rotator cuff can become significant because of the stress placed on these structures.
You don’t have to be a world-class pitcher to have shoulder problems. Ideally, we want our shoulders open and back. The shoulder girdle is unique in that it has few joints, but many muscles that attach to the upper back, as well as the chest and arms. The upper back region is important in shoulder health, as the lower trapezius, rhomboids, and rotator cuff muscles stabilize and retract the shoulder blades.
To understand how the upper back coordinates with the shoulder, notice if you raise your shoulder when moving your arm. Notice if you tighten or raise your shoulders to turn your head to look over your shoulder when driving.
Professional baseball players have to manipulate their bodies in an incredibly complicated way to throw at astounding speeds. On the mound, pitchers have to work with asymmetries in the body, using one side of the body for many, many repetitions. Their training must involve unwinding the damage caused by this imbalance and make both sides of the body function well. For the rest of us, at play and during the day, we can train and be aware of symmetry in our upper backs and shoulders.
Her are three exercises for proper functioning of the upper back and shoulders.
1. W Stretch. Stand up, with your core engaged. Pull the shoulders down and back. Externally rotate and fully extend the arms. You should feel it in the chest and front of the shoulder. The W stretch strengthens the rhomboids, traps and external rotators of the shoulder and arm. Hold 20-30 seconds, 2-3 times per day.
2. A’s on the ball. Lie on your chest on a ball, legs straight with feet firmly on the floor. The arms are straight and close to the body, resembling the letter “A.” Raise and lower the arms, externally rotating the arms from the shoulder so that the thumbs point out and up. Throughout the exercise, keep shoulder blades down and back, chin gently pushed back. Ten reps.
3. T’s on the ball. Lie on your chest on a ball, legs straight with feet firmly on the floor. Raise the arms to form a T position, palms down, then lower arms. Throughout the exercise, keep shoulder blades down and back, chin gently pushed back. Ten reps.
If you feel sore and stiff, you might want to consider foam or ball rolling. Whether you’ve skied too hard, or overdone any activity, you can fix your post-exercise pain with a technique called self-myofascial release. Rolling can improve flexibility, restore movement function and help with delayed onset muscle soreness. The technique also relaxes stored tension in the muscle and releases endorphins to help reduce pain.
Combining rolling an area of muscle with an immediate stretch for that particular muscle is the best strategy for fixing tight, sore muscles. Research shows a greater improvement in joint range of motion compared to stretching or foam rolling alone.
It may sound technical, but self-myofascial release is really a simple concept. Myofascial refers to muscles and fascia; the prefix myo means “muscle.” Self-myofascial release is basically massage, where external pressure is applied to sensitive areas in the muscle, which are either tight, inflexible, knotted or contain scar tissue. The sustained pressure stimulates circulation to the area and increases flexibility.
There’s a reason muscles feel tired and tight either from doing too much or doing too little exercise. The benefits of exercise are myriad, but there is a downside of repeated loads on the body: microscopic damage in muscle and fascia. That typically results in sore or tight muscles, or diminished movement quality. Massage and trigger point therapies by clinicians can help, but you can also fix your own pain at home with a roller or balls.
There are two kinds of self -myofascial release techniques: general and specific. General involves using a foam roller for larger muscles, such as the front thighs. More specific would mean working on your calf or foot, where tennis balls, golf balls, baseballs, or other massage tools can pinpoint a precise area of muscle. The specificity of using a tennis ball is also practical if you’re traveling and can’t take a foam roller along with you.
Rolling and athletic performance
The influence of rolling on athletic performance remains unclear. A review of nine studies reported no change in vertical jumps or multi-directional sprints. In another study of 24 athletes published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, joint range of motion increased but power and agility declined after five minutes of rolling. For pre-event warm-ups, the recommendations are not to roll for more than a minute to prevent power loss.
How to roll
For the rest of us, at present there is little concern regarding how long you roll. Research suggests five seconds to three minutes, or three sets of thirty seconds on each area in need. Once you find an area in the muscle that’s restricted and tight, take your time to explore the tight spots with either a roller or a ball. Try to relax to allow the hormones to release into your body to encourage further relaxation.
Watch the link for an example of neck myofascial release combined with a neck stretch at
Try this new six-move fitness routine to break your pandemic rut
Did you ever imagine living through a pan- demic? More than ever, we’re all chal- lenged to be resilient. For many of us, our routines are shot and the new normal is still unfolding. One way to feel better is to get back on a routine. The best approach to longevity, vitality and independence is through consistent exercise.W
The human body has more than 635 muscles, 206 bones and 360 joints—an incredible wonder. Now is a good day to start taking good care of that wonder.
Here’s your arsenal, a creative, effective home program to help you get started or relight your pas- sion for a routine. Keep it short and sweet by pick- ing a few key muscle strengthening and flexibility/ mobility exercises. The following six moves use simple home exercise equipment: free weights or a milk jug, a golf ball and resistance bands. You can do the routine while catching up with the news or a show. Try to do each exercise for one minute and repeat the circuit twice.
1. Golf ball roll
Massage your feet with the golf ball roll to reju- venate the plantar fascia on the underside of your foot. All the muscles of the lower leg attach on the bottom of your foot. This connective tissue can get irritated and sore if you tend to continually stand with your feet falling inward, or after a summer of wearing flip-flops. Also, if your ankles don’t bend easily in a squat, this self-myofascial release exercise will help.
Place a golf ball under each foot and roll it back and forth until you hit a sore spot. Don’t overdo it, but increase pressure on that particular spot until it feels better. If a golf ball is too uncomfortable, use a tennis ball instead.
One minute each foot, preferably daily.
2. Step back with arm reach
Stretching your calf right after golf ball rolling helps immensely, as you’ll feel this stretch all the way up the back of your leg. This big bang-for-your- buck stretch targets the calf muscles, the hip flexors and the whole front body.
Start with your feet hip width apart and take a normal-size step back with the right leg. Simulta- neously fully extend the right arm up. Be sure the feet are placed straight forward. Keep your inner arches lifted and press down through your heel. Do three to four times and repeat on the left side.
Strengthen all your leg muscles with this move. Lean back against a wall, knees slightly bent. Pick up your left leg and cross it over your right knee. Try not to laterally shift your hips more than an inch or two. Slide down until your knees are level with your hips. Extend your arms and hold posi- tion for as long as you can. Build up to one minute. Switch legs.
4. One-minute clamshell
This is a time-tested favorite of clients who want the best butt exercises. The one-minute clamshell focuses on the gluteus maximus, an external rota- tor of the hips. This big muscle also pushes the hip forward. The glute maximus attaches to your lower leg via the IT band. When working properly, these muscles help to slow down pronation and internal leg rotation. In other words, if your butt muscles are weak, your knees will typically fall inward.
Place a mini-band above your knees. Lie down on your side, with knees bent and feet stacked on each other. Lift the top knee up, like an open clamshell, until there is tension on the band. Keep tension on the band for one minute. Repeat on the other side.
Tip: Minimize any spine or pelvic motion through strong abdominal bracing.
5. Single leg bridge with extension
This is an important exercise for the lumbo-pel- vic hip area, the core. There are 29 muscles attached to this area and keeping your core strong is essen- tial for a strong and stable spine.
Lie face up on the floor with your knees bent. Feet are flat on the floor. Relax your arms by your side. O
Simultaneously tighten the glutes and brace the core. Smoothly raise the hips off the floor until you form a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Extend one leg out at knee height. Lift and lower the extended leg up towards the ceiling and back to knee height 10 times.
Tips: Focus on a powerful glute contraction. Keep the load on your shoulders, not your neck. Try not to rotate through the hips.
If you can’t fully extend in the bridge position, it could mean the hip flexors are tight. (Go back to move No. 2.)
6. Half kneeling halo
You can make a standing core exercise more effective by dropping to a kneeling position. When you kneel, you have to engage your core to keep balanced, as your knees can’t grip the ground in the same way your feet can when standing. Plus, by driving the back foot into the ground, you recruit more glute muscles. The half kneeling halo also allows for another great hip flexor stretch, interwoven into a great core and shoulder move.
Start in a kneeling position with a weight or milk jug in front of your chest, elbows pointed to the floor. Brace the core, and “trace” or halo the weight around the head. Keep the weight very close to your head. The weight makes a full revolution and ends directly in front of the chest, elbows pointing to the floor. Immediately repeat in the oppo- site direction.
Tip: A common mistake is for the weight to complete the halo, but not the elbows. Make sure the arms and elbows return to the start position. Keep the chin tucked. R
Connie Aronson is an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and Cor- rective Exercise Specialist. Follow her at www.conniearonson.com and on Instagram @conniearon.
Published in the Idaho Mountain Express- Remote Living: A guide to the new normal October 7, 2020