What’s In Your Toolbox?
Ever feel stiff and tight after a long car ride, working on an intense project, or being a weekend warrior? If so, it’s nice to know what you can do, in your own home, and right away to begin to dissipate that pain and stiffness! We will be building your toolbox of exercises so you can pull out the few that will help you in whatever circumstance you find yourself.
There are five basic exercises to start off your toolbox to get your body moving if you feel stiff and tight, or are even experiencing some pain in your body. These are the first opening exercises that also prepare your body for more intense stretches to come. I always begin any stretching routine with these five before moving on to any others.
The beauty of these exercises is they are done in a comfortable position and are comforting to do. They are designed to be done slowly, opening your spine lengthwise, stretching and separating your vertebrae, rotating with a twist, and opening your hips and neck as well.
And…if need be, they can be done right in bed upon waking, or at night before falling asleep! Though it is best to do them on a more firm surface like a carpet or a mat on the floor.
Of course if there is pain, check with your doctor first.
1. The first basic exercise is the pelvic tilt.
In this exercise, lie down on your back with your feet flat, and knees bent. When we lie like this we have a natural arch in our low back. In the pelvic tilt, you tilt your pelvis backwards, as if down into your stomach, so that you are flattening your low back against the mat.
Hold for five seconds and then release slowly. Repeat this 5 to 10 times.
2. The second basic exercise is the chin tuck.
In this exercise, you are in the same exercise position as the pelvic tilt. You may Want to use a small thin pillow under your head if that feels better to you.
You will be performing the same flattening of an arch but this one is behind your neck.
Lying on your back with your knees bent up and feet flat on the floor, tuck your chin into your neck and stretch out the back of your neck to flatten it against the mat as far as it will go.
Hold for five seconds and release slowly. Make sure to breath while you are holding this. Repeat this 5 to 10 times.
3. The third exercise is to combine the pelvic tilt and the chin tuck above, for an overall lengthening of the spine.
Begin with a pelvic tilt, and hold that while you then also chin tuck.
Hold both for 5 seconds, and gently release both. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
4. The fourth basic exercise is called lower trunk rotations.
You are in the same position lying on your back and with your knees together, feet flat.
Your knees can be touching or you can have a small ball, the size of a cantaloupe, between your knees.
Keeping your legs basically together, rock them over to the left and then over to the right. Continue this back-and-forth movement very slowly and rhythmically with your arms down by your sides. Your knees should feel like the gentle swaying of windshield wipers, but without pushing too far over to the side with your knees so as to strain your back!
As you do this more and more, you will want to go further with time as your back and hips release. Repeat this 20 times, 10 times each side.
5. The fifth exercise is knee to chest.
You are in the same position as the others, flat on your back, knees bent and feet flat.
First place one leg out straight, then with your fingers wrapped around your other knee, grab the other knee and pull that knee towards your chest. Hold it there for five seconds and then slowly release, placing your leg out straight on the floor again. Repeat the same thing with the opposite leg, alternating sides. Do this 10 times, five times on each leg.
And there you have it!
The first five exercises in your toolbox to help you “heal yourself at home” when your muscles tighten up, or to keep yourself well and stretched out to help prevent injuries.
Enjoy these, and we will build your toolbox together!