During the holidays, we often put our bodies through unusual circumstances. Cooking a 20 pound turkey for your ravenous family? Marathon shopping trips at the mall? Lifting a 7 foot tree up 2 flights of stairs? Regardless of your holiday activities, one thing’s for sure: most of us will complain of back stiffness during the next two months. Here are a few easy yoga/Pilates poses to keep your spine more flexible and pain-free this holiday season.
1) Child’s Pose:
- Stretches: low back, buttocks, shoulders
- Good after: cooking a stressful family dinner
- Try this pose: Start on hands and knees. Keep your knees wider than your feet if you have knee pain/stiffness. Sit your buttocks onto your heels as you stretch your arms forward and relax your head to the ground. Breathe deeply as you hold 10-20 seconds. Repeat as necessary.
2) Cat/Cow Pose:
- Stretches: entire spine
- Good after: too many falls trying to relive your childhood ice skating dream
- Try this pose: Start on hands and knees. Inhale and look up to the ceiling as you arch your spine. Exhale and look towards your belly as you round your spine. Alternate 10 times between these two positions in a slow, controlled fashion.
3) Forward Bend:
- Stretches: hamstrings, calves, low back
- Good after: day-long shopping extravaganza
- Try this pose: In standing, keep back flat and hinge from hips to fold forward. Touch fingertips to the floor, bending deeply at the hips. Bend your knees if you cannot touch fingers to the floor. Bring your weight slightly forward into the balls of your feet so your hips stay over the toes. Let your head hang. Breathe deeply as you hold 10-20 seconds. Repeat as necessary.
4) Spinal Twist:
- Stretches: low back, buttocks, chest
- Good after: carrying heavy shopping bags
- Try this pose: Lie on your left side with hips and knees bent to 90 degrees and arms straight in front of you. Exhale as you lift your right arm up and over, twisting through your spine. Allow your right shoulder blade and hand to melt into the floor behind you. Breathe deeply as you hold 10-20 seconds. Repeat on other side.
5) Low Lunge:
- Stretches: hip flexors at the front of your thighs, abdominals, shoulders
- Good after: prolonged sitting at work or with travelling
- Try this pose: Start in kneeling. Step left foot forward, keeping left knee in line with your left ankle. Flatten your low back by tucking your tailbone under until a stretch is felt in the top/front of your right thigh. Raise arms overhead for an increased stretch. Breathe deeply as you hold 10-20 seconds. Repeat on other side.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to be flexible to participate in yoga and Pilates. These poses will jumpstart your yoga/Pilates interest and keep your spine flexible, reduce stress, and prevent injuries! Remember: Consult your doctor if your back stiffness results in pain!
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! This weekend we will begin our Winter Sports Training Series. Check it out to get ready for the slopes this season.