What is Fascia?

What is Fascia?

By Dominic Pereira

In this article, we look at what fascia is, how it affects the body and why we want our fascia to be fit!

1. What is Fascia?

a). Fascia is connective tissue made of collagen and elastin fibres, water, and GAGs (glycosaminoglycans). This forms a “wetsuit” like structure that connects muscles to bones, organs and the neurological and circulatory systems. 

Fascia is found everywhere in the body, forming layers between the layer of the skin, muscles, cells, and every other body tissue. Superficial fascia is located under the skin, deep fascia surrounds the muscles, and visceral fascia supports the vital organs. Read more about the types of fascia.

An excellent example of fascia can be seen in citrus fruit. The pith is the spongy white tissue lining the rind of oranges, lemons, and naartjies. It is the essence or core. The pith holds everything together. The individual wedges are “glued” together by it, as are the cells within. Fascia does the same in the body, e.g. it binds individual muscle fibres into bundles and bundles together to form a muscle; one muscle connects to the next fascially all the way up the chain to form the body, giving shape and integrity.

“The fascia is our strength system and our recoil rebound mechanism that stores energy like a catapult or spring.”

b). Our fascial “suit” creates a tensional force transmission system, known as tensegrity, in the body. 

Tensegrity is the strength or structural integrity created by the tensional forces between the bones and the elasticity of soft tissues like muscle and fascia and the space in-between all of these. Balance between these three elements creates a two-way pull, which allows buoyancy and a resilient, expressive and responsive system. This tension allows for compression and expansion within the body as the body moves and forces are distributed to maintain structural integrity. 

An example of tensegrity is the quad stretch, where you bend your right knee, holding onto the foot with the right hand. The foot is then pressed into the hand while the elbow is kept straight and the right glute is activated. This creates tension within the system by creating resistance to the extension of the knee and using the glute to allow the hip flexor to release.

c). Fascial lines: Structurally, fascia is defined in terms of specific lines where it runs uninterrupted forming one piece of connective tissue when dissected. These fascial lines are the core or deep front line; the deep front arm line; the anterior or superficial front line; the posterior or backline; the lateral line, the spiral lines, and the deep back arm line.

d). Redefining the core: traditional core vs myofascial core. 

The traditional concept of the core was seen predominately as the abdominal muscles, specifically transverses abdominis, that support the trunk and spine and the activation and strengthening of these muscles. Other muscles may also have been focused on like the pelvic and shoulder girdle, but mostly, the TA was the focus. 

The myofascial core, or deep front line, however, is based on the core fascial line which runs as one continuous fascial connection from the big toes to your temples. This involves many more muscles than just the horizontal abdominal muscles. In this myofascial vertical core, the diaphragm plays an integral part as it is connected fascially to most of the important movement and stability muscles in the body, like the psoas and the quadratus lumborum etc. And hence, diaphragmatic breathing is key to connecting the core and also releasing the often tight and unhappy psoas, which is also known as the “muscle of the soul”. Read more about the diaphragm and psoas in point 3.

2. So What is the Problem?

a). Fascia moulds to the position or posture we spend most of our time in. This is called adapation or mechanotransduction. Most often this means that we mould into a seated posture and remain “seated” even when standing. This is because the fascial ground substance hardens and dries losing its “glide and slide” ability and instead becoming sticky or dry and stuck. Poor posture, sitting a lot, poor hydration and diet, lack of movement and incorrect movement all mould and change the fascia creating adhesions or fascial resistance. This will limit joint range of movement which can create strain, tears in the fascia and scar tissue which will inhibit movement.

“Having tight fascia is like driving a car with the handbrake on.”

3. Fascial Fitness

“Improving fascial pathways by manually releasing fascial tension improves the neural and arterial systems so that the energy and communication via the central nervous system flows easily to the brain stem and then sets in the cerebellum, our seat of memory for movement.”

a). The idea is to create fascial flexibility and fascial integrity by creating “space” in the tissues (preparing the fascia) and then moving into that space (strengthening). Creating space removes resistance and restrictions along the fascial lines or pathways. We want to create a healthy fascial suit that allows us to be aware of our bodies not through pain but through proprioception (spatial awareness). Fascia is our biggest proprioceptive “organ” or system.

b). Fascia thrives on hydration so drinking water is important but moving that water into the tissues is vital. So movement in all planes is imperative to achieve this. The most important way to move fluid through the tissues is with diaphragmatic breathing. 

To create space in the tissues you can use techniques like compression and expansion (rolling and shearing), bouncing, tensegrity and pandiculation. All of these are performed with diaphragmatic breathing, proprioception and intentionality.

c). Pandiculation is the all-inclusive stretching (equal stretching and contracting) of the whole body, against internal force, in as many fascial planes as possible accompanied by a yawn, which resets the neuromuscular pathways.

d). The diaphragm is our breathing muscle. It connects fascially to many parts of the body including the thoracic spine as it resides within the cavity of the ribcage and connects to the spine posteriorly, to the sternum anteriorly and to the bottom six ribs laterally. These are all part of the thoracic spine. 

Diaphragmatic breathing causes the ribcage to expand three-dimensionally and because it connects to the spine and many other important movement structures, like the *psoas, it is vital to enable the release of these structures.

e). The psoas is important because it is our major hip flexor and the only muscle that connects the spine to the femur. It is also important because it is vital to the autonomic nervous system and is activated by the sympathetic nervous which is responsible for getting the body ready to protect itself by either defending or fleeing, hence the term “fight and flight”. The psoas, therefore, responds to input from the brain and body when we are stressed and will go into defence mode, contracting, even if the body isn’t under threat. 

So long term stress, as well as too much sitting, will create a short and over activated psoas, as the system becomes hyper-vigilant. But since the diaphragm links to the psoas, it can unlock and mobilise this muscle with mindful nasal diaphragmatic breathing by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.

f). MAP is an educational and movement toolset that will educate you about your body by teaching what fascia is, and how it contributes to poor movement and posture as well as causing pain and injury. You are therefore empowered and taught how to employ various self-release techniques using different tools and methods (massage, bouncing, etc.) rather than having a therapist be hands-on with you. It allows you to create space from the outside by using self-release and from the inside out through breath and movement. And then, once space has been created through self-release, strengthening exercises are taught to maintain the space. 

MAP is movement therapy and not manual therapy. It uses different evaluation techniques to determine where a person’s fascial restrictions. The fascial lines are released to realign, hydrate the fibres and then actively strengthened to ensure that the release is maintained, something which massage won’t give over the long term.

“A variety of movements is the key to healthy fascia. Don’t get comfortable with routines. Mix and match and vary the speeds and intensity of your movements. Bend and extend and rotate often. Get stretched. Be flexible and think flexible and make fascial fitness a habit and your focus.”

References

Sign Up for our Fascial Fitness Classes

At moveOn 89, our classes focus on diaphragmatic breathing throughout as techniques like compression and expansion (rolling and shearing using balls and rollers), bouncing, tensegrity, and pandiculation are employed to get the fascia “unstuck”. Book your class below!

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6 Easy Ways to Incorporate Movement Into Your Day

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6 Easy Ways to Incorporate Movement Into Your Day

By Dominic Pereira

Finding time to work out or elevate your heart rate enough to burn a few calories can be tough for people with busy schedules. Our guess is that you are one of those looking for ideas. You’ve come to the right place!

Many of us are glued to our desks for long periods and this can really wreak havoc on our body and mind. Taking the necessary steps to ensure you take care of yourself will benefit you as you grow older and your body starts to suffer from all the things you did (or didn’t) do when you were younger.

So here are 6 easy ways to incorporate movement into your day.

1. Go for a Walk

Back to basics! Walking is a brilliant workout for anyone looking to lose a few kilos and trim the visceral fat (fat that wraps around your abdominal organs). Having too much fat around your waist can be dangerous to your health as this raises your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, a stroke, or high cholesterol.

Walking has such great benefits including boosting your mood (it releases feel-good endorphins), burning calories, strengthening your heart, lowering your blood sugar, and so much more!

It’s also a great low impact exercise, especially if you cannot run due to a sensitive back, some trouble with your joints, etc.

So grab your tekkies and your dog, and go for a walk!

Some tips before you hit the trails:

  • Wear comfortable shoes that protect your feet but which don’t impede your natural foot biomechanics.
  • Walk with a friend or let someone know you’re going for a walk by yourself. Maybe it’s time to adopt a pet as they are the best companions when going for a stroll!
  • Always cool down after a walk and do some light stretching.
  • Take it slow at first to build up your tolerance.
  • For extra fat burning, try to keep your heart rate up.

2. Join a Pilates Class

What is Pilates (Pi-laa-tees)? Pilates focuses on training the brain and body to connect. This is initially done using small, controlled movements to teach your muscles to fire by laying down new neural pathways. This motion will strengthen your muscles and create optimal movement patterns.

This will improve posture, breathing, digestion, joint health, and many other physiological benefits.

You can join a Pilates class either online via Zoom, or in a studio (like ours in Gardens, Cape Town). The studio is great if the online world isn’t your favourite place to be right now.

Some benefits of joining online workout classes or using one of our pre-recorded, edited videos:

  • Get fit and healthier
  • If you’re bored, this is a fun way to burn some calories!
  • Interact with others. We know lockdown can be a bit lonely and it’s hard to go on group outings these days
  • You have instant access to classes

3. Mini Workouts Throughout the Day

Have a desk job that’s keeping you glued to your seat for 8 hours a day without much movement other than going to the bathroom or grabbing some coffee? Our bodies aren’t meant to be in a seated position for extended periods. Sitting for so long can increase your risks of type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Don’t worry, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting diabetes, but all the sitting isn’t helping your body in any way!

Luckily there is good news! If you don’t really have time to fit in a 30-minute workout in your day, a study has found that doing mini-workouts throughout your day can be beneficial. But, there’s a catch… Your heart rate must be elevated for at least 10 minutes for this type of exercise to be effective.

Ever heard of High-Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT? Other than it being such a quick, effective workout, this type of workout will burn fat HOURS after your session has ended.

Does your street (or any nearby street) have a nice steep (ish) hill? Try doing some hill sprints as a HIIT workout! And if you don’t have hills near you, stairs are just as beneficial.

4. Invest in a Standing Desk

If you’re still working from home (or if your boss is cool and will get you one), a standing desk is one of the best purchases if you want to improve your health.

We already mentioned above how bad too much sitting is for your health (and your glutes) so adding a standing desk to your office space will surely help you sit less.

This adjustable standing desk by JUMBO DeskStand is a popular purchase by many.

However, if this one is a bit out of your budget, here is another more affordable option (it’s also eco-friendly), and here.

Alternate Between Sitting and Standing
Ensure you alternate between sitting and standing as too much standing can also be detrimental to your health.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, standing for long hours can cause the following problems:

  • Varicose veins
  • Low back pain
  • Sore, swollen feet and legs
  • Neck and shoulder stiffness

A good rule of thumb is to alternate between sitting and standing every 30 minutes to an hour.

5. Light Stretching

If it’s possible, stand up and do a few light stretches at your desk. This will help you wake up and it will get your blood flowing again.

Below are a few stretches you can do at your desk, but be careful and take it slow so you don’t hurt yourself.

stretches you can do at your desk
Credit: Working Against Gravity

6. Invest in a Smart Watch

This tip is only if you don’t mind splurging a few bucks on yourself for your health. These nifty watches are a great addition to your health journey as they have many cool functions including reminding you to stand up and move. Depending on the watch, you can adjust its settings to remind you every hour that you must move around a bit or get some steps in.

This tip is only if you don’t mind splurging a few bucks on yourself for your health. These nifty watches are a great addition to your health journey as they have many cool functions including reminding you to stand up and move. Depending on the watch, you can adjust its settings to remind you every hour that you must move around a bit or get some steps in.

Make it fun
If this whole idea of living by a watch is not your cup of tea, why not make it more fun by creating a challenge between you and your partner, friend or family member?

For example, the one with the least steps or calories burned by the end of the week has to do laundry or wash the dishes the following week. Or the winner can choose the next movie when it’s movie night. This is a great way to keep you (and the other person) motivated to continue making healthy choices.

Join Pilates, Yoga, and HIIT Classes with moveOn 89

Whether you want to join us via Zoom (when offered, buy a pre-recorded, edited video or at our studio in Gardens, Cape Town, at moveOn 89 we offer a wide range of wellness classes including Pilates, Yoga, and HIIT.

To join our classes, simply visit our Schedule page to choose a time that works for you and book!

9 Tips for Staying Active Over the Holidays

9 Tips for Staying Active Over the Holidays

9 Tips for Staying Active Over the Holidays

By Dominic Pereira

We know that sometimes working out is simply not appealing. It can become frustrating constantly hearing that you should work out, drink water, go for a walk, pull out the yoga mat, etc. Rather than focusing on that massive list of things social media keeps telling you to do to keep your mind and body fit for the upcoming holidays, let’s focus on what it’s really about: your health, longevity and best of all, your happiness.

Instead of thinking, “I REALLY don’t feel like working out right now, especially with all this great food!”, think about how you feel after a workout or when you simply move your body for a few minutes. We forget that it’s not always about obtaining that six-pack or growing bigger muscles, it’s about feeling good in your own body and finding happiness in becoming healthier each day. We’re not going to tell you to go for a 5K run, instead, we’re going to share alternative ways to bring movement into your (and possibly your family’s) life during the holidays.

9 Tips for Staying Active Over the Holidays

1. Go for a Walk

Go for a Walk | 9 Tips for Staying Active Over the Holidays

Grab your parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, whoever and go for a walk!

Walking has such great benefits including:

  • Boosting your mood. Since walking releases those feel-good endorphins, you’ll get an instant mood lift! It also helps if you’re walking with people you like!
  • Burning calories and helping you lose visceral fat (aka belly fat). According to this study, walking had positive effects on obese women. These women walked between 50 – 70 minutes three times a week.
  • Strengthening your heart
  • Lowering your blood sugar (since you’ll reduce fat around your stomach)
  • Boosting your energy
    Spending quality time with loved ones
  • Experiencing the healing power of nature and discovering new trails

There are so many more benefits of walking, but for now, go try it out and see for yourself!

Some Walking Safety Tips

  • Try to walk in groups
  • When walking at night, make sure you have a light with you and wear reflective clothing
  • Try not to wear flashy or valuable items
  • Make sure you have water with you
  • Know your route and let people know where you are walking and when you will be back

2. Join an Online Pilates Class (with the Family)

If you’re home for the holidays (or somewhere else) it might be a bit tough to find a studio near you. So joining an online Pilates class is perfect to get your body moving at home and your family can easily join!

Why join an online class rather than downloading an app with a bunch of workouts? Well, because the holidays are often about bonding or connecting with each other and joining a live online class can add a personal touch to the whole experience! You’ll be able to connect with your instructor, say hello, smile at one another, and then get down to the business of good movement. Send us an email if you’re keen to join a class or get a link to a pre-recorded class.

3. Dance it Out

Dance it Out | 9 Tips for Staying Active Over the Holidays

According to Ludmilla Chiriaeff, “Dance is movement, and movement is life.” So whilst we have a passion for Pilates and Yoga in their purest form, we are most interested in the bigger picture of good movement which often starts with just simply moving, with play, with discovery. So this holiday, grab your friends and family, put on a few upbeat songs and dance your hearts out—like no one is watching!

4. Clean the House

We know, we know, it’s your time to rest and enjoy quality time with your loved ones, but having a clean house is also good for the soul—and your body!

Set aside an hour or two and get started with cleaning. When you’re cleaning you get in basic moves such as walking, reaching high and bending low—making it the ultimate full-body workout!

5. Portable Exercise Gear

Portable Exercise Gear | 9 Tips for Staying Active Over the Holidays

If you’re not keen on just using your body weight to work out, investing in portable exercise gear like dumbbells, a yoga mat, a jump rope, etc., is a great solution.

And if you don’t have the space to carry your gear with you, water bottles and cans with peas or beans will work as well!

6. Play a Game (Hide and Seek is Not Just for Kids!)

We know it’s tempting to just grab a deck of UNO cards or set up a game of Monopoly, but try to play a game where movement is involved. A few great games to consider is tag, hide and seek, Twister, etc. Even throwing a ball around outside, or playing tennis on the lawn or against a wall can help you get movement in for an hour or two.

7. Create a Fun Challenge

A little healthy competition amongst family never hurt anyone. Setup a fun challenge with the family such as, “the person with the most steps doesn’t have to do the dishes”, or whatever you have

8. Keep it Short

Rather than focusing on an hour-long workout, stick with 30 minute HIIT workouts.

High-Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, involves short periods of intense exercise followed by short, low-intensity recovery periods. These quick workouts will help you work up a sweat within 10 to 15 min. Here are seven benefits of HIIT to help motivate you.

9. Remember to Relax

Remember to Relax

Last but not least, remember to relax. We know it’s great to bring movement into your life but resting is just as important as working out because life is all about balance. Embrace the moments you have with friends and family and enjoy that as much as you can.

Rediscover Movement with moveOn 89

Would like to sign up for our movement classes? You can choose whether you want to join our online Pilates, HIIT or Yoga classes, or if you’d like to join our instructors in the studio here in Cape Town. Get in touch with our wellness gurus to get started.

Want to see how it goes before committing? Sign up for a FREE trial class.

What Happens to Your Body When You Sit 8+ Hours a Day — And How To Fix it

What Happens to Your Body When You Sit 8+ Hours a Day

What Happens to Your Body When You Sit 8+ Hours a Day

— And How To Fix it

By Dominic Pereira

Since the start of 2020’s chaos, most of us had no other choice but to adapt to the “lockdown lifestyle” which caused us to sit even more! Can you still call it a lifestyle if you sit glued to your desk for eight hours and then onto the couch, binge-watching your favourite series for another four! Yes, an unhealthy lifestyle.

We know working for eight hours (or more) a day is unavoidable for most and sometimes it’s what you need to crush your career goals. We also understand that during the initial part of lockdown, some felt they could only watch Netflix the entire day as a form of entertainment. But have you ever taken a step back and thought about the negative impact it has on your body?

Our bodies aren’t meant to be in a seated position for extended periods. Sitting for so long can increase your risks of type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Don’t worry, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting diabetes, but all the sitting isn’t helping your body in any way.

Want to hear some good news? According to The Mayo Clinic, “60 to 75 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a day countered the effects of too much sitting.” Now there’s no excuse to skip out on that Pilates class again. There’s nothing a few “desitting” exercises can’t fix!

What Happens to Your Body When You Sit 8+ Hours a Day

What Happens to Your Body When You Sit 8+ Hours a Day | Neck pain

1. Cardiovascular Issues

According to WebMD, sitting too much can cause your brain to look similar to that of a person with dementia. It can also raise your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

How can you be at risk of diabetes from sitting too much? When you sit for extended periods, the cells in your body don’t respond well enough to the insulin your pancreas produces, thus causing your pancreas to produce more insulin.

2. Weak Muscles & Muscle Degeneration

Sitting too long can bring all sorts of problems. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to weak legs and glutes (muscle atrophy), tight hips (when you sit, your hip flexors shorten), and a possibility of developing hyperlordosis — a condition where there’s an excessive spine curvature in the lower back.

Since most of us have bad posture, too much sitting can wreak havoc on your back. Having poor posture can lead to premature disc degeneration, resulting in chronic pain.

Investing in a standing desk or ergonomic chair might help you stand more.

3. Increased Anxiety and Stress

Not only can sitting too much cause physical issues but mental ones as well. According to a study done by HealthDay News, people who spend long hours sitting are more likely to feel anxious.

“The findings, researchers said, do not prove that sitting in front of a TV or computer causes anxiety. For one, it’s possible that anxiety-prone people choose to be sedentary.” But being sedentary can definitely contribute to negative emotions whereas movement that creates blood flow and endorphins to be released, together with fresh air always create a sense of wellbeing. Our mantra: “the only workout you regret is the one you DIDN’T do.”

4. Increased Cancer Risk

According to a study done by Dr David Dunstan, a sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of lung cancer by 54%, uterine cancer by 66%, and colon cancer by 30%.

5. Varicose Veins

Sitting for long periods can literally start to show its effects on your body via varicose veins (or spider veins — much smaller veins). The condition is caused by blood by pooling in your legs.

Although varicose veins aren’t harmful, these swollen veins can lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or deep vein blood clots. Read more about DVT here.

6. Strain in Neck, Back, and Shoulders

Since you’re hunched over your computer 90% of the time, it can cause considerable postural strain in your upper body which can lead to many other issues like headaches.

Keep in Mind

According to WebMD, it’s possible to undo all your hard work at the gym if you work out for two hours but sit the rest of the day.

That doesn’t mean you should give up on exercise or movement! This should only lead you to move more and sit less.

The Exercises You Need to Do If You Sit All Day

Yoga

Yoga can really help stretch out and strengthen those weak and strained muscles. There’s a yoga pose for everything! And the breathwork and mindful movement create a sense of wellbeing.

Pilates

Pilates might help you develop a strong core, according to popular belief, but this popular workout does so much more than that. You’ll be able to strengthen your glutes, legs, back, shoulders, and all the other muscles affected by sitting. And it helps you develop a keen sense of body awareness.

Walk

Try to stand up and take a quick walk every hour. It doesn’t need to be around the block, simply walking around the house will suffice! And try to stand up every 20 minutes and do some basic stretches for two or three minutes.

Exercises to Try

Doing the below exercises daily, can help “reset” your body after a long day at work or on the couch.

Warmups to Try

Walking in Place or in a Circle

Stand upright and start lifting your knees, as if walking in one place. You can either walk in one position or turn in a circle.

Calf Raises with Quick Jumps

Start by doing a few calf raises for about 30 seconds. This will really help warm up your calves and pump your blood back up to the rest of your body. After 30 seconds, lightly bounce up and down, landing softly on your feet. Keep your knees slightly bent to protect your knees from the impact. You want to feel “springy” and elastic as you bounce.

Bonus
While jumping, shake out your wrists to warm them up for the rest of the exercises.

Glute Warm Up

  1. Start by standing on your left leg, knee slightly bent, and lift your right leg up in line with your hip.
  2. Slowly extend your right leg to the back without letting your feet touch the floor.
  3. Bring your right leg back up and repeat on this side for about 20 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Single and Double Leg Bridges

Double Leg Bridge | Photo Credit: Women’s Health
Single leg bridge
Single Leg Bridge | Photo Credit: moveOn 89 Studio

Single or double leg bridges are great for engaging the largest glute muscle called the gluteus maximus (Shown as B in the graphic below) as well as the hamstrings.

gluteus maximus illustration
Photo Credit: Aloha Hands

How to do a Double Leg Bridge:
Start on your back, laying flat on the floor.
Bend your knees, feet flat on the floor. Try to place your feet as close to your glutes as possible without arching your back. (Optional: Add a rolled up towel between your knees to activate your adductors (inner thighs).)
Start by doing two spine or pelvic curls to mobilise your spine: Tuck your tailbone and slowly peel your pelvis off the floor and then peel your spine off the mat bone by bone.
Keep your tailbone tucked and your chest low. Squeeze the towel and relax the muscles in your face.
Slowly lower back down to the floor, bone by bone again.
The bridge: now keep your pelvis neutral and simply lift your hips and ribs in one movement to form a bridge, keeping shoulder blades down.
Lower pelvis and ribs as one unit to the mat.
Repeat for 12 reps.

For an added burn
After doing 12 reps of glute bridges, remain at the top and lift and lower your heels.
Keep squeezing your towel and your glutes as you do the calf raises.

Dead Bug

No animals were harmed during this exercise!

Although the name sounds strange, the dead bug is an amazing stabilising exercise that focuses on your core muscles.

How to perform the Dead Bug:
Start on the floor by laying on your back.
Raise your arms to the ceiling hands above your chest.
Bend your knees at 90 degrees bringing your knees above your hips.
Keeping your core engaged, slowly extend your left leg until it’s straight while extending your right arm above your head.
Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position, and repeat on your right leg and left arm.
Once you’ve completed both sides, that’s one rep. Alternate for 12 reps in total.

High Plank with Knee-hover / 4-Point Kneeling Hover

High Plank with Knee-hover
Photo Credit: Popsugar

Have you ever heard the term “If you think a minute goes by really fast, then you’ve never done a plank.” Although many people tremble at the thought of doing a plank, this exercise is an amazing full-body exercise.

How to do a High Plank with Knee-hover:
Prep: Hovering Knees: Start on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Engage your core and hover your knees just off the mat, spine neutral.
Hold for 5 breaths. Progress to full version: start in high plank with hands under shoulder and legs stretched out.
Take a deep breath in and sit back without your knees just off the floor, same as “hovering knees”.
Inhale then straighten back into a plank.
Complete 3 sets with 4 reps each.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch

If done correctly, this stretch is the perfect movement to target your hip flexors. Sitting for extended periods causes your hip flexors to shorten, making them feel tight and inhibiting functional movement at the hip joint.

How to do a Hip Flexor Stretch:
Start by kneeling on the floor.
Step your right foot out in front of you, keep your hands on your hips, tuck your tail under and squeeze your left glute.
Slowly start to press your hips forward (only as far as you can, don’t force it).
Try to hold each stretch for 20 seconds.

Cat-Cow

The cat-cow stretch is ideal for stretching both your back muscles and abdominal muscles. It’s also great for opening up your chest.

How to do the Cat-Cow:
Start on your hands and knees, shoulders above your wrists, hips above your knees.
Inhale and lift your chin and chest to gaze forward while lifting your sitting bones to gently arch your lower back.
Exhale and draw your belly in and round your back to the ceiling into a long c-curve.
Continue the movement for 10 breaths.

Bird Dog

This move might seem confusing at first, but practising slowly, in the beginning, will ensure you alternate your hands and legs without a problem. The bird dog move activates your sling patterns and strengthens your pelvic and shoulder girdles.

How to do the Bird Dog:
Start on all fours, ensuring your core is engaged and your back isn’t arching.
Keeping your core engaged, extend your right arm overhead with your thumb pointing to the ceiling while simultaneously extending your left, toes pointed towards the floor.
Place your hand and leg back on the floor and repeat on the other side.
Do this exercise slowly to ensure you’re not rotating your hips.

Seated Windscreen Wipers

Windscreen wipers are the ideal exercise to restore your range of motion by opening up your hips and improving hip mobility.

How to do Windscreen Wipers:
Start by sitting on the floor, your legs open with your knees bent. Place your hands behind your back and lean slightly backwards.
Slowly roll your pelvis and knees to the left. As you do this, open up your chest and rotate your head and chest left.
Slowly roll back to the starting position.
Repeat on the right.
Continue rolling left and right for 30 seconds.

Side Leg Raises

Side leg raises have numerous benefits including improving range of motion in your hips, waking up muscles that are “asleep” from sitting too long, and helping to stabilise your body.

How to do Side Leg Raises:
Lay down on your left side on the mat, with your left knee bent and your arm underneath your head. Place your right hand behind your head, elbow pointed to the ceiling.
Simply lift your right leg and point your toes.
Lift your leg 10 times.

For an added burn:
After completing 10 leg raises, rotate your leg externally at the hip joint, point your toes up 45 degrees.
Slowly bring your right knee and right elbow together and let them “connect”. Then “disconnect” by straightening your arm and leg.
Repeat this motion for 10 reps.
Once complete, repeat everything on your left side.

Shoulder W’s

Shoulder W’s
Photo Credit: Ace Fitness

Shoulder W’s are another effective movement for your back.

How to do Shoulder W’s:
Start by laying on the floor with your arms at your sides, knees bent.
Bring your arms up, palms facing the ceiling until your hands are next to your head.
Lift your arms and hands slightly until it’s hovering above the floor.
Slowly straighten your arms until you’re forming a W, then bring them back down, almost touching your hips.
Repeat for 12 reps.

Seated Glute Stretch/Figure of Four

A seated hip stretch is an amazing move to stretch and open your hips.

How to do a Figure Four Stretch:
Start by laying on your back.
Place your left foot over your right knee, place your hands behind your right knee and gently pull toward your chest.
Hold that stretch for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Other Tips to Keep in Mind

Try to stand up and walk around every 30 minutes.
When you’re watching TV or talking on your phone, stand up and walk around.
Walk around or do exercises while you wait for advertisements to finish when you’re watching TV.
See if your work can organise standing desks for employees.
Suggest walking around during quick meetings with other employees.

Resources:

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