LIMBER UP w/Brian Clarke

Does your body bark at you with pain and stiffness when you stand up from sitting at your computer?  Do you find it difficult to do the things you used to do with ease? 

Please study our short “limber up” tutorial (below) and take 10-minutes a day to learn how gentle movement stretching can restore your ability to move without chronic discomfort.  

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Instructions for a Gentle Movement Stretching Regimen.

Preliminaries.  During your next few workouts, see about finding a quiet, private, easily accessible place, that’s sheltered from the wind.  It should also include an object you can use for balance and support, such as a pipe railing about hip height.  Each of your workout routes should have such a quiet place to limber up about 10 minutes into your running, jogging, or walking.

  • A gentle movements stretching regimen includes various exercises, such as bending over to touch your toes (the hamstring stretch).  But rather than working to actually touch your toes (i.e., becoming more flexible), you’ll strive to increase your range of pain-free motion.
  • Most people experience discomfort when they move their body or a limb into positions they seldom assume.  This regimen will require some of those movements, from a starting position to one approaching an uncomfortable range near full extension, but not going into discomfort.
  • Your movements should feel comfortable; otherwise, you’ll contrive a way to stop doing uncomfortable movements.  But long-term sustainability (from week to week, month to month) requires that you be able to move in and out of a position for at least three minutes, without discomfort.  That’s what we call gentle movement stretching.

More Preliminaries.  Discomfort means you are forcing a stretch, instead of relaxing into it (see the power scale below).  Whenever you feel discomfort, back off on power until it goes away.  Then use subtle movements to play with the onset of discomfort and, thereby, reduce it.

  • Most of the movement positions in this regimen focus on several stress points, i.e., specific muscles and tendons.  See about feeling each stress point without letting intensity rise above the comfortable level (see the intensity scale above). 
  • As you move your body, be aware of the possibility of injury, which is a different sort of discomfort (see the injury scale above).  It’s okay to be injured as long as the pain you’re experiencing doesn’t rise above the tender level.  Never move through higher levels of pain because that will lead to chronic injury.
  • Tilt and Trust.  With most leg stretches, you can increase or decrease tension near the full range of motion by shifting your hips forward and back—called tilt and thrust.  Tilting your hips creates a curve in your lower back, thrusting reduces or flattens the curve.  

Three Final Preliminaries.  Effective posture is held together by a strong, tight core.  With every movement, see about tightening your core muscles without pressing or forcing your core muscles.  Also, hold your body in a correct posture position: butt back, chest up, shoulders back and down.

  • How Much to Do.  With each exercise, begin with one set of six repetitions.  Depending on your strength and susceptibility to injury, you may add one repetition per workout (or per week, or per month) until you reach 10 repetitions.  Sustainability is paramount!
  • Continue practising until each of the following exercises becomes habitual and enjoyable.  The goal is to feel good about your regimen because it makes your body feel good and so you’ll look forward to doing it, instead of wishing you didn’t have to do it because it’s so disagreeable.
  • Your body should be in charge, not your mind.  If you go too hard for too long, your body remembers and it will tighten the relevant muscles so you can’t go that far next time.  That’s why it’s important to always relax the muscles you want to stretch, while staying within your comfort range.  

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