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Are you and your body truly ready for what is about to happen next week? This is how I see it. You have booked a coach ticket using miles on Southwest to see your family in Milwaukee, connecting through Miami (3 hour layover), on a red eye. Your sister begs you to haul back all the sour dough bread and See’s candy you can carry-on so that she can give them as gifts to all of her neighbors. It is Christmas after all, so you agree (Note to Self: See Day 1 about learning how to say ‘No’). Then, when your favorite niece graciously explains that she will be giving up her fabulous Disney Princess canopy twin bed with the lumpy mattress for you to sleep in, I have a feeling that your body will be in need of a little TLC the next morning.

 

So when you wake up that next morning, gently roll out from under your pink canopy and down onto that ‘wall to wall’ luxurious pink princess carpet and slowly move through some of these stretches as your morning meditation and time for yourself.

[one_half]Then, when your favorite niece graciously explains that she will be giving up her fabulous Disney Princess canopy twin bed with the lumpy mattress for you to sleep in, I have a feeling that your body will be in need of a little TLC the next morning.[/one_half]

There is a lot of information and research floating around debating ‘To Stretch or Not To Stretch’. My personal belief and the philosophy that I follow with my clients, as well as my own body, is that stretches are useful and helpful  when performed on muscles that actually need to be stretched. Lengthening or over-stretching weak muscles often leads to further imbalances and joint issues. The challenge is that most people have no way of knowing which muscles in their bodies are actually in need of lengthening and inhibition versus which are actually long, weak, or taut and giving false feedback that they are needing a nice stretch. Sadly judging by sensation alone is never a reliable source. A great example of this comes from a client that came to me complaining that his hamstrings were always tight and painful and no amount of stretching would ever bring relief. After a quick assessment of his pelvic alignment and a flexibility screen of the muscles attached to his pelvis, we discovered that his hamstrings were actually too stretched, long and weak. He immediately started a prescription of hamstring shortening and strengthening, bringing about complete relief of his pain within a week. Not magic, just the physics of the body’s lever system. (For more information on stretch testing, check out this link to the complete trainer’s assessment.)art-seats2-420x0

So use these travel stretches as a body wake up, just like a puppy does his stretch and warm-up routine after laying down for an extended period of time. For full body mobility, I recommend moving in and out of each stretch initially. For example, for the hip flexors, lunging forward in the single knee, then coming back to your starting point.  Then as you find some of the movements are tight and difficult to move through, you can hold the stretch for 30+ seconds. Again, always stopping before any intense sensation of pain or pulling.

[one_half]The challenge is that most people have no way of knowing which muscles in their bodies are actually in need of lengthening and inhibition versus which are actually long, weak, or taut and giving false feedback that they are needing a nice stretch. Sadly judging by sensation alone is never a reliable source.[/one_half]

If you are home with a group of family or friends, try making it a fun activity for the entire family, getting the kids and granny to do them with you.  Nothing serious or intense, just a way of getting the blood flowing and joints moving. If weather permits, get outside and do them in a nearby park. Lastly, many of these stretches are designed to be done while traveling in coach on an airplane. On a crazy long flight and getting cramped up? Try some of these compact stretches to loosen things up a bit.

(Note: If you are not currently doing any type of exercise , injured or experiencing any type of body or joint pain, I always recommend consulting with a doctor or health professional before starting any type of new exercise program.)

For more information, or if you have exact questions on which stretches are appropriate for your body, feel free to drop me an email here at info@diakadibody.com.

Happy holidays and good luck making it to the Home Stretch!

1. Hip Flexors

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0K10-_fJjaI&feature=c4-overview&list=UUmVFpzoOajud7zArEm11NYg[/youtube]

For mobility alternate between shifting your weight forward then back, gradually increasing the range of motion as it feels comfortable for 12 reps per leg.

For a static stretch, try holding this for 30 seconds to begin with, continuing to hold the stretch for a longer amount of time if needed. Continue to breath throughout all stretches.

2. Quadriceps

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa-5xFRDPdY&feature=c4-overview&list=UUmVFpzoOajud7zArEm11NYg[/youtube]

For mobility, you can start by alternating legs for the standing stretch, holding each leg for a quick second before switching for 24 reps. You can also use the toe on the wall stretch for mobility by lunging forward and back, gradually increasing the range of motion for 12 reps per leg.

For static stretching, when possible, use the kneeling toe on the wall version in order to relax your body during the stretch. Hold this stretch initially for 30 seconds, feeling for the muscle to relax and the fibers release.

3. Hamstrings

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z4ePzixMcA&feature=c4-overview&list=UUmVFpzoOajud7zArEm11NYg[/youtube]

For mobility, i recommend slowly moving in and out of the bent over toe touch (5 count down, 5 count up), increasing the range of motion as able for 12 reps.

For a static stretch, when possible, use the floor version with one leg resting against the wall in order to relax your body during the stretch. Hold this stretch initially for 30 seconds, feeling for the muscle to relax and the fibers release.

4. Piriformis and Hips

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsZ_70O75Jc&feature=c4-overview&list=UUmVFpzoOajud7zArEm11NYg[/youtube]

For mobility, I recommend sitting in the piriformis cross leg stretch (shin parallel to the floor) and slowly rocking forward into the stretch and back sitting straight up for 12 reps per leg.

For static stretches, hold these stretches initially for 30 seconds, feeling for the muscle to relax and the fibers release.

5. Lower Back, Hips Twist

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd8nxvs2R0g&feature=c4-overview&list=UUmVFpzoOajud7zArEm11NYg[/youtube]

For mobility, alternately kick your legs across your body, pulling the knee across with opposing hand for 24 alternating side reps.

For static stretching, try holding the stretch for 30 seconds per leg to begin with, continuing to hold the stretch for a longer amount of time if needed. Continue to breath throughout all stretches.

6. Calves

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dqlu8IiC2KU&feature=c4-overview&list=UUmVFpzoOajud7zArEm11NYg[/youtube]

For mobility, use the wall lean version of the stretch and rock back and forth between (1) your back heel down and leg straight and (2) your back knee bent and rolling up on your toes with heel off. Try 12 reps on each leg by alternating heel up, heel down.

For static, hold these stretches for a minimum of 60 seconds to begin with due to the density of the calf muscles. Hold the stretch for a longer amount of time if needed. Continue to breath throughout all stretches.

7. Chest

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0aJCziKCnI&feature=c4-overview&list=UUmVFpzoOajud7zArEm11NYg[/youtube]

For mobility, slowly twist your upper body and spine into the stretch and back out of it for 12 reps per side.

For static, try holding these stretches for a minimum of 30 seconds to begin with, holding the stretch for a longer amount of time if needed. Continue to breath throughout all stretches.

8. Neck

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ246W0pApI&feature=c4-overview&list=UUmVFpzoOajud7zArEm11NYg[/youtube]

I recommend using this stretch as a static stretch only as opposed to a mobility movement. Try holding these stretches for a minimum of 30 seconds to begin with, holding the stretch for a longer amount of time if needed. Continue to breath throughout all stretches.

9. Latissimus Dorsi (Lats)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4y40FwPoFw&feature=c4-overview&list=UUmVFpzoOajud7zArEm11NYg[/youtube]

For mobility, I recommend rocking in and out of the stretch by alternately (1) shifting your hips with chest drop and (2) shifting your hips back front with chest up for 12 reps.

For static, try holding these stretches for a minimum of 30 seconds to begin with, holding the stretch for a longer amount of time if needed. Continue to breath throughout all stretches.

DIAKADI’s The 12 Days of Fitmas: Welcoming the holidays and year’s end as a time for relaxation and celebration, The 12 Days of Fitmas will teach people to take the time to enjoy the fun of the season, while reflecting on the year and looking forward to the year ahead. The series tackles the biggest problems that many face: stress, holiday parties, eating well, preparing for the New Year, and more.

“The holidays tend to be one of the most challenging times of the year for our clients,” says Billy Polson. “The stress, over-booked schedules, party foods, alcohol and travel plans wreak havoc on their workouts and their bodies. The 12 Days of Fitmas are our effort to help people not only survive the holidays, but thrive throughout them.”

Through The 12 Days of Fitmas, DIAKADI will demonstrate the belief that fitness is about far more than dead lifts, burpees and the spin class. Rather, fitness and health encompass all aspects of one’s lifestyle including sleep schedules, stress levels, deep breaths, proper fuel for the body, and enjoying life every day. DIAKADI will use video to demonstrate topics like “Ultimate Destination Workout,” ensuring that whether one is at a beginning or an advanced level, they will learn proper form and technique for the perfect workout regardless of location. The principals discussed in the series will be applicable beyond the holiday season and throughout the New Year.

Originally published at Patch.com.

Day 1: The Most Wonderful Yet Stressful Time of Year: Managing Holiday Stress Day 2: The Holiday Hunger Games: Holiday Party Survival Tips Day 3: The 80/20 Rule: By Damn, Enjoy the Holidays Day 4: Healthy Holiday Recipes that Don’t Suck Day 5: Planes, Trains, and Drive-thrus: Smart Choices for Food on the Go Day 6: Travel Stretches to Make Coach Feel Like First Class Day 7: Grandma Got Run Over by the Holiday Cold: Staying Healthy for the Holidays Day 8: The DIAKADI Destination Workout: Anytime, Anywhere, No Equipment Necessary Day 9: Silent Night: How to Stay Rested Throughout the Holidays Day 10: The Holiday Hustle: Getting Off the Couch and Out of the House for the Big Day Day 11: Start the New Year Off with a Bang Not a Bust: Do What You Love this New Year’s Day 12: When the Clock Strikes Midnight: Successfully Setting and Reaching Your New Year’s Goals

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