One of the key components to health and wellness throughout your life, but especially as you age, is your ability to move. Too often our daily life can wear down the body’s natural posture, strength and flexibility. Things like hunching over a computer, carrying stress and tension in your shoulders, even the position you sleep in, can all have an effect on your ability to move over the years.
In the previous blog, we introduced the idea of tonic and phasic muscles, and how they help (or hinder) your overall mobility. Today, we are going to cover the tonic muscles. These are the ones are most greatly affected by the every day stress and tension, and it causes them to shorten over time, making you more tense.
So what are the tonic muscles? You probably already know them as the ones you always feel like need a good stretch! These include the upper back muscles (upper trapezius), the chest muscles (pectoralis major and minor), biceps, the hip flexors (psoas), piriformis, which runs across your butt, hamstrings and calves. All muscles that will typically feel really tight after a long day of working away at your desk!
Now, you definitely don’t need to run out and quit your desk job over this though! A few simple stretches, done regularly, can go a long way to keep you mobile and strong. Here are a few of our favorites:
Doorway Pec Stretch: pectoralis major and minor
· Stand in a doorway with one foot in front of the other
Doorway Pec Stretch
· Bend elbows 90 degrees, and place forearms on the door frame.
· Lean forward until you feel the stretch across your chest.
· Hold for 30 seconds, switch feet and repeat 5/side.
Upper Trap Stretch: upper back muscles
· Tilt your head over to the right side, so your ear is almost touching your shoulder.
· Relax your shoulders, and feel the stretch along the left side of your neck and back.
· If you need more a stretch, use your right hand to gently pull your ear closer to your shoulder.
· Hold for 20 seconds, repeat on other side.
Runners Stretch: hip flexors
· Start with your right foot planted on the ground, knee bent about 90 degrees, left knee on the ground behind you.
· Squeeze your butt and gently push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in your left hip.
· Relax, and repeat for a total of 30 seconds per side.
Supine Figure 4: piriformis
· Lay on your back with feet planted on the ground, knees bent.
· Cross your right ankle over your left knee (like a 4)
· Gently pull your left thigh towards your chest.
· Hold for 30 seconds per side.
So how important is it to work on these things? Very! How much time should you dedicate to it? As much as you can spare! We aren’t saying that you should drop your whole workout routine in lieu of some of these things, but being more intentional about working some mobility work in can go a long way. And of course, if you have any questions or need any help, don’t hesitate to ask your Renovo Trainers!