Many people avoid yoga because they're inflexible. The problem is, they're the ones who should take up yoga in the first place.
If you find yourself facing a similar situation, i.e., you'd like to start a yoga practice but don't feel flexible enough, here's the good news: There are plenty of poses you can start with while gradually deepening your practice.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you do the following poses:
1) Breathe deeply and evenly throughout the pose, and
2) Don't hold the pose for longer than your body allows.
1. Child's Pose
The Child's Pose is a basic resting pose you can hold for a few minutes.
How to do it: Begin with your knees and feet on the floor with your feet touching. Slowly lean forward to place your head on the floor while resting your belly and chest between your legs. Stretch your arms out in front of you.
2. Upper Chest and Back Opener
You can do this move almost anywhere and while either sitting or standing.
How to do it: Raise your arms to shoulder height with your elbows bent. Make your hands into loose fists that are facing each other. Open your chest by drawing your elbows back as if they were going to meet behind your back. Next, return to the starting position while continuing onward until your hands wrap around your shoulders with one elbow stacked on the other. Do two to three sets while switching which elbow is on top.
3. Chair Pose
Both sides of your body will move in and out of this pose at the same time. The Chair Pose is an excellent leg strengthener.
How to do it: Stand with either your feet together or hip-width apart if you're especially stiff. Bend your knees as if you're sitting in a chair while raising your arms alongside either side of your head.
4. Seated Forward Bend
If you're new to yoga, use a block and straps for this exercise, which increases flexibility in your legs and back.
How to do it: Sit on a block or blanket with your legs stretched out in front of you, knees slightly bent. Place the strap around your feet and gradually lengthen your spine as you move your upper body forward. Be careful not to round your spine.
5. Locust Pose
The Locust Pose is an excellent backbend for beginners that strengthens all of the muscles in your back.
How to do it: Lie on your belly and raise your arms, legs, and chest off of the floor. Your palms should face the floor as you focus on keeping your neck long while extending your head away from the chest. If you'd like, clasp your hands behind your back when you lift to create a deeper opening for your shoulders and chest.
6. Tree Pose
The Tree Pose is a one-legged balancing pose that helps center the mind while building confidence.
How to do it: Stand on one leg and bring the foot of your opposite leg up to your ankle (or higher depending on your flexibility). Lift your arms into the air to create the tree's "branches." It's OK to put a hand against the wall for balance or to stand with your back against the wall.
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There's no question that foam rolling has become one of the hottest trends in the fitness world. You'll find foam rollers almost everywhere — at your gym, at your physical therapist's office and, of course, in your home.
What is foam rolling? It's a form of self-massage that gets rid of adhesions in your muscles and tissue. If not dealt with, these adhesions can lead to pain and injury.
But getting the best results from your foam roller means using it correctly. Here are some do's and don'ts that will help you maximize your foam rolling sessions.
Roll indirectly on an area where you feel pain
If there's a spot on your body that's particularly sensitive, work around it without applying direct pressure. Work on smaller, more localized regions before moving on to larger, sweeping movements.
One mistake many first-time users make is rolling too quickly. While it may feel great, you're not actually eliminating any adhesions. Going slowly allows the superficial muscles and layers to adapt to the compression. Use short, slow rolls over and around tender spots.
Don't spend too much time on your knots
Be careful of spending too much time working on the same area. Users who do so often apply all of their body weight onto the roller, which can put sustained pressure on one body part and damage tissue (or hit a nerve). Experts recommend spending no more than 20 seconds on each sore spot. You can also work on managing how much body weight you apply.
Don't use a foam roller on your lower back
Many users love applying a foam roller to their lower back. The problem is, your spinal muscles will contract and protect the spine, which provides no therapeutic effect. Instead, use the foam roller on your upper back to protect your spine.
Roll to the "trigger point"
The trigger point is more commonly known as a "muscle knot," but the idea is the same. Roll until you feel your trigger point and then stop and rest on the roller for about 20 seconds. Focus on relaxing the muscle.
Choose the right foam roller
With so many foam rollers on the market, it can be a challenge to find the one that's best for you. Here are some of today's hottest sellers:
Double chins can show up for a number of reasons, including age, weight gain and a combination of those two factors.
Many of us consider them frustrating to say the least. They can make you look more overweight (and older) than you really are. While plastic surgery is an option, it is invasive and often expensive.
Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate an unsightly double chin without surgery and the post-surgical recovery.
Face and Neck Exercises
These may sound (and look) a little crazy, but they work!
Perform chin lifts in a standing position with your back straight. Start by tilting your head back to lift your chin. Tilt your head back as far as possible. Purse your lips and hold the position for 10 seconds. Lower your head and repeat. Perform 10 reps.
Start this exercise in a sitting position with your back straight. Tilt your head back as in the first exercise. You should be looking straight up. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth as hard as you can. Lower your head while still pressing your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Lower your head until your chin is pressing into your chest. You should be able to feel the muscles in your chin and neck contracting as the press against each other. Relax your tongue and return to the original position so that you can repeat the exercise. Perform 20 reps.
Lower Lip Pout
Perform this exercise while standing or while sitting. Start by sticking your lower lip out from your face as far as you can. Next, lower your chin as far down to your chest as possible while keeping your upper back straight. Relax your neck and return to the original position. Perform 20 reps.
You will need to sit on the floor to perform this exercise. In the seated position, place one hand on the floor with the palm down. Your hand should be about a foot to the side of your hip. Place your other arm over the top of your head so that its palm rests against the opposite cheek. Bend your head away from the arm that is on the floor towards the opposite shoulder. Use the arm that is over your head to assist the motion. Hold the position for 10 seconds and perform two more reps on that side, then three on the other side.
These are just a few of simple exercises you can do every day to minimize a double chin. For more free exercises, visit our Resources page!
There's nothing quite like the feeling of an intense workout - whether it's a sense of accomplishment, or the mental exhilaration of knowing you've met a challenge while doing something good for your body. Muscle soreness can be part of the equation, too.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is the soreness you may feel 12-48 hours after a workout. It can make it uncomfortable to perform day-to-day tasks, but the good news is that there plenty of ways to relieve it, such as those listed here:
1. Apply Heat
Applying heat to sore muscles reduces pain by increasing blood flow to the area. This helps heal the small muscle tears that lead to DOMS while ultimately relieving pain. You can apply heat in a variety of ways, from a hot tub, steam room, sauna, or just soaking in your tub at home.
2. Apply Ice
Many elite athletes swear by a post-workout ice bath because the cool temperatures constrict blood vessels - which reduces swelling. If sitting in shocking cold temperatures sounds daunting, then use ice to treat to specific muscles and areas.
3. Apply Heat And Ice
Since heat and ice both help in soothing sore muscles, why not combine them? One method is to apply an ice pack for 15 minutes, followed by a heat pack for 15, and then repeating the process until you feel relief. It's an effective way to promote better blood flow and muscle recovery.
4. Gentle Stretching
Muscles tend to tighten up when they're in the recovery mode, which can intensify feelings of soreness. Slow, gentle stretching will relieve the tightness and reduce pain.
5. Light Cardio
If stretching isn't enough to relieve soreness/tightness, light cardio the day after a hard workout can improve circulation and warm up your body. The important thing is to move, slowly and gently, and that can even mean walking around the house or your neighborhood.
6. Pack In Protein
Your muscles are depleted and need nourishment after an intense bout of exertion. And one thing they crave is protein, so give them what they want via natural sources such as fish, poultry, lean meats, lentils, and more.
7. Rub It Away
Not that you need an excuse to have a professional massage, but getting one is a great way to relieve pain and tension. If you can't see a professional, do it yourself with a foam roller or tennis ball.
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Stretching isn’t just useful before and after an intense workout. Performing certain stretches in the morning can jumpstart your day and help your feel more energized.
Why Stretch In The Morning?
The American Council On Exercise suggests every person, regardless of physical ability, stretch when he or she wakes up in the morning. One of the main reasons is to eliminate aches and pains.
While an achy body can occur at any time through the day, it’s most pronounced after your body has been at rest for an extended period of time.
There’s an increase of fluids in your joints and spinal discs as you lie horizontally during the night, but gentle stretches done first thing gets this fluid moving and alleviates stiffness.
In addition to the relief of aches and pains, morning stretching helps to improve posture, increase blood flow, and support greater energy throughout the day.
The Best Energizing A.M. Stretches
There are a variety of simple stretches you can perform to experience the benefits listed above. Here, we’ll discuss five of our favorites.
1. Easy Seated Stretch
In this move, sit comfortably with your legs crossed in front of you. Place your hands on your thighs, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Continue this way with a nice, steady breathing pace for as long as you choose.
2. Soothing Seated Forward Bend
For this stretch, remain in the position described above. Bend forward with your head down, walking your hands out until your feel the stretch. Don’t force yourself all the way down if it isn’t comfortable. Do this move each day and you'll get there.
3. Stretchy Seated Back Arch
In the same seated position, place your hands behind you on the ground and press your fingertips down. Inhale and lift your body up until your bottom no longer touches the ground and you are resting on your knees and shins. Slowly lower yourself back down as you exhale.
4. Cow and Cat Stretch
Get on your hands and knees for this move. Drop your belly to the ground and look up as you inhale (this is the cow portion of the move). Then exhale, round your back, and lower your stomach into the cat position.
5. Downward Dog
Stand with your feet apart and bend forward at the waist, creating an inverted “V” shape. Take a deep breath, tuck your toes, and lift your hips. Allow your head, neck, and shoulders to relax, staying in this position for five deep breaths.
To make the most of your morning stretches, have an expert show you the moves. Give Amarillo personal trainer Ralph Roberts a call to get started.
If you work an office job all day, your muscles may not be getting used much due to a sedentary lifestyle. Many people who work at a desk for 8 hours or more per day may experience increased weight, poor posture and stiff, painful joints. Stretching is a vital part of keeping the body strong and flexible to avoid injury and stiffness.
Why Is Stretching Important?
You may not think of stretching as exercise, but it is just as important to the body. It increases flexibility and sends oxygen to the brain the same way as other forms of exercise. It warms the body up for activities by sending blood and nutrients to the muscles, reducing the possibility of accidents or injury from muscle strain. It also helps the joints achieve the full range of motion preventing stiffness and promoting a stronger base of support.
The good news is that you can regain flexibility and keep your muscles and joints healthy by incorporating regular exercise and stretching into your daily routine even if you sit all day.
Here are a list of stretches you can do at your desk to maintain flexibility.
2x2x2: Sitting in your chair, stretch both arms up toward the ceiling. Place one hand on your desk and grab the back of the chair with the other hand towards the bottom of the chair and twist in the opposite direction. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Release and reach for the ceiling again. Then repeat the stretch on the other side. Hold for another 10 seconds and release.
Shoulder Spin: Place your left hand behind your back, palm facing out. With your right hand, reach up and down over the shoulder blades and try to touch the fingers on your left hand. If you are able to touch, hold it for 10 seconds. If not, just get as close as you can because it will improve with practice. Repeat on each side.
Seated Leg Lifts: Push your chair back and raise and lower your left leg 15 times. Be sure to get a full extension on each lift. Repeat with the right leg. Raise and lower slowly – don’t bounce.
The Magic Carpet Ride: Sit cross-legged in your chair and raise yourself up on your arms, tighten your stomach muscles and hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds if possible. Repeat 5 times. Be sure to rest for 30 seconds in between raises.
If you would like more information on keeping muscles and joints flexible and how to avoid injury, contact Ralph Roberts in Amarillo. As a personal trainer, Ralph can walk you through stretches and exercises that will protect your muscles, tendons and joints.
Some people call it "feeling the burn," but others say "ouch." Post-workout muscle soreness can mean a couple of different things. It can be a good sign of a successful workout, or it can mean you may have injured yourself inadvertently. Here's how to distinguish a good "ouch" from a bad "ouch" and how to treat sore muscles after a trip to the gym.
When you experience good muscle soreness, there is a reason behind it. When you exercise, you create minor trauma in your muscles, and as the muscle rebuilds, it comes back stronger than ever. This is what helps tone and build up your muscles. It's also normal for you to feel very sore after you haven't exercised for a long time, or you've worked muscles you haven't worked in a few days. You may feel an ache all over, or in a specific area you've worked, such as your arms and legs. As long as the soreness is equally distributed over that area, this is a normal sign of working out and shouldn't be a concern.
Sometimes, a sore muscle may be an indicator that you’ve damaged a muscle. A good indicator of this is that one particular area hurts. For instance, if you worked out both legs equally, but only one hurts, you probably injured a muscle. Also, if you are so sore that it impedes your day or makes you want to skip working out, you could have a muscle injury. A healthy soreness should only last up to 48 hours and you should still be able to work out around it.
Sore Muscle Treatment
To treat sore muscles after a workout, take some acetaminophen to combat inflammation. Use a foam roller to massage the tender area and relax the muscles. You can also apply an ice pack to the injured or sore muscle area to reduce swelling and pain. To avoid sore muscles in the future, get on a regular regimen of fish oil supplements. This helps boost your circulation and also reduces pain and inflammation.
When you exercise, stay hydrated and make sure to stretch before and after your workout. Make sure to go into your workout slowly to ensure your body is ready to move. Going into a workout cold can increase the chance of muscle injury.
Looking for an exercise partner and coach that will keep you motivated and excited about working out? Talk to Ralph Roberts, a professional personal trainer. He can custom design the perfect exercise plan that's right for you and get you moving.
A warm-up and a cool-down are essential for any workout. Warming up helps to reduce the risk of injury and excessive soreness after your workout. A cool down increases flexibility and range of motion and gradually slows down your heart rate.
A warm-up should be just enough to stretch and heat up your muscles, but not anything too vigorous. It's okay to break a light sweat, but it's just a warm-up, so don't over do it. Traditionally, static stretches have been the go-to, pre-workout warm-up, but they just don't do the trick like dynamic warm-ups do.
What Are Some Dynamic Exercises For Warming Up?
Jumping jacks/jump rope. This is a great way to get your body warm and your heart pumping a bit. Do it for about 2-3 minutes.
Body weight squats. Body weight squats are a good way to stretch and warm up the lower body. Do about 20 of them.
Push ups. Start with 10 and work up to 20 depending on your level of fitness.
Lunges. Do several on each leg.
Hip rotations. While standing, bring one knee up to a 90 degree angle and then swing it outward. Repeat and alternate with the other leg.
Arm swings and shoulder rotations.
Now, if you are new to fitness, this may seem like an actual workout, not just a warm-up. Go ahead and start slow, do what you are comfortable with. The important thing is that you effectively warm up your muscle groups and get moving.
How Do I Cool Down After A Workout?
Cooling down is about slowing down your heart rate. Take advantage of those now-heated up muscles and really stretch them to increase range of motion. A good cool-down is a satisfying way to end a good workout.
Slow your pace. If you’ve been running, don't just abruptly stop after your time/miles are up. Slow down your pace, and then walk for a bit to get your heart rate back to normal.
Calf stretches. While standing, press the ball of your foot against a walk to stretch out your calf. repeat on the other foot.
Hamstring stretch. Sit down on the floor with legs straight in front of you, then lean forward to gradually stretch out your hamstrings.
Knees to chest stretch. Lie on your back, bringing your knees up to your chest. Hold for a few moments.
Be sure to hydrate.
It is always a good idea to warm-up and cool-down, you should not take a shortcut here. A vigorous workout without a warm-up can potentially cause you to injure yourself.
If you are serious about starting a new fitness routine, but don't know where to begin, you may want to contact a personal trainer who can get you started. A personal trainer can tailor a workout to help you reach your goals faster, and keep you motivated. Contact Ralph Roberts at the Downtown Athletic club to find out how a personal trainer in Amarillo can benefit you.
When you experience an injury, it is important to do what your doctor recommends. The doctor may tell you to forego exercise for a few days. Follow the doctor's advice. The down time will allow any inflammation to subside and give the injury time to heal.
Once your doctor tells you that exercise is okay, you can do specific exercises to help with healing the injury. Here are a few exercise recommendations based on different types of injuries.
Taking a walk is one of the best exercises you can do after a back injury. It allows you to keep your spine straight and work the muscles gently in the process. If walking is too painful, pool therapy may be the answer.
Stretching is important in back injury recovery. Stretch the ligaments, muscles and tendons around the spine gently. Also, make sure to stretch your legs and hips since they greatly affect your back health.
Maintaining flexibility is important after a shoulder injury. Pendulum exercises will help keep the muscles stretched without straining the shoulder or rotator cuff. Bend forward and allow your arm to hang free. Gently move it in circles and in straight lines.
Stretching and strengthening the muscles of the neck and upper back can also help with shoulder injuries.
Stretches are a good way to start after a knee injury. Try a hamstring stretch then quadriceps stretch. Go to the point of discomfort and let go.
Strengthening is next. Try doing straight leg lifts, buttock tucks, quarter squats and step-ups to strengthen the knee without aggravating the injury further.
Bearing weight is the first step in recovering from an ankle injury. Take a walk, using crutches as needed.
Stretching the muscles will help you support the range of motion in the joint. Move the ankle in circles and in straight lines while stretching the muscles.
It is important to build the strength of the ankles and lower legs to prevent future injuries. Leg lifts and walking are great ways to get the ankles stronger.
Consider a personal trainer
If you are having any issues with exercise after an injury, it is a good time to work with a personal trainer. The trainer can show you specific exercises that can help you heal the injury and strengthen the muscles to prevent further injury.
For anyone in Amarillo needing help after an injury, contact Ralph Roberts. Ralph has been a professional athlete and personal trainer for over a decade. He has the training and experience to help you get back to the fitness level you had before your injury.
When it comes to physical fitness there is one part that is often left out of the equation, yet is very important when it comes to performance: agility. Look at any athlete and you will see how important agility is. Most top athletes have a nimbleness about them that helps them work with a high level of efficiency. This agility and flexibility enables athletes to perform for longer periods of time and reduces the risk of injury.
There are quite a few exercise that you can do to help improve your agility both physically and mentally. Whether you work out at the gym or at home, these exercises can help you build your strength and stamina.
Purchase a set of small cones then set them up with one in the middle and three on each side, evenly spaced. You are going to move through these cones while creating imaginary letters -- M, N, I, T,Y. Go at a speed you are comfortable with; you may start by walking or feel fit and strong enough to shuffle. Decide which order you are going to go in and complete the movement patterns. As your skill increases you can move the cones further apart and work at faster speeds.
If you are already a runner but are looking to increase your agility, sprint intervals can help. You can do these sprints on a treadmill or outside. Try a 30 second sprint at full exertion then a 60 second rest period, which can be jogging or walking. Try for 10 intervals to start with.
Blow up two balloons, each a different color. Decide on a color order, so you may go green/red or red/green. Hit each balloon in the order you have decided to keep the balloons in the air. If this exercise seems too easy, you can try performing bodyweight squats between each contact with the balloon.
Explosive Medicine Ball Throws
Start with a medicine ball that weighs around four to six pounds. Bend into a chair squat then jump while throwing the ball. This is an explosive move, so you are projecting the ball as far as you can. You can begin with eight reps and increase weight and reps as you improve.
You will need an agility ladder for this exercise. Decide how you want to move your body through the ladder, you might want to march with high knees, run or shuffle. Recite the alphabet as you move up and down the ladder.
Using these exercises whether separately or placed together as a workout, can help you increase your agility and flexibility.
If you are looking for a coach that can help you in all areas of fitness, contact Ralph Roberts. Ralph Roberts will create a specialized plan to help you reach your personal goals.
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