Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What's the best type of flexibility training to do?

There are many different types of flexibility training and classes; so what's good for you and what's not? How do you know if your flexibility training is right for you?

Flexibility Training Techniques that I endorse

  • passive flexibility training - this is where you hold a position and use gravity or a partner to help you move further into a position.
  • active flexibility training - this is where you use your own strength to move into and out of an exercise (commonly called strength flexibility). This type of flexibility is most useful for what you need to achieve proper movement every day and involves movements more than isolating a muscle group such as squatting, bending, reaching, walking, etc.

Is all flexibility training equal
No, it is not. Flexibility training is a complex issue and I could get very wordy on the subject however i'll save you the time to say the following:

I makes sense to mimic the movements we do in everyday life (especially from birth) so what I teach and practice myself is based on movement patterns of mobile and healthy joints (usually found in babies, young children).

So flexibility training should address joint mobility and stability (to prevent injury) and it should also both strengthen your muscles and lengthen equally. 

In the coming months i'll post some exercises that focus on what is mentioned above.

Abdominal strengthener and Hip joint mobility exercises

 All Fours Footwork (above) - start with knees on the floor or with legs straight in a usual plank. Walk feet in until knees are under hips (keep knees off floor). Move between the two positions 5 times and gradually increase.

Hip joint mobility and active hamstring flexibility   (above and below)
Step 1. Start with your feet hip width apart, bend from hips and keep a straight back (keep extending your spins so you feel like your spine is being pulled away and your hips pulled back). This will be a great stretch.
Place your hands on something that allows you to keep a straight back.

Step 2. Tilt hips from side to side, you may feel stretching in the legs or a loosening in the hip joints.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

New Year's Goal Setting 101

So it begins....Its January and its time to take stock of the year that has passed and decide what will be for the year to come.

I always say if you can't resolve to change something at any time of year (whether it relates to your diet or exercise plans) or something totally unrelated like getting along better with someone then it won't last.

Here are a few tips to help you stay on track with new goals.

  • Make a plan to keep your goals in mind throughout the year.  Keep them on your wall somewhere you'll see them regularly and check how you're going. 
  • Plan how you will work toward your goals on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Review how you're going along the way and don't get down on yourself if you don't achieve them just be prepared to change your plan to suit where you're at.
  • Spend some time on a Sunday or other preferred day to plan your goals into your week. For example if you plan to build a better relationship with someone then plan a phone call or a meal with them and put it into your diary.  If you're trying to eat healthy then set aside some time to plan your meals, shop and cook.
  • If something is important to you then put it into your schedule. This includes reading a book or taking time out to do something you've been putting off for a long time. 

January Exercises - squat and rotation/super squat for posture

Here are the first of the exercises to be added during January for those who want to keep up some exercises over the short break until classes re-commence in February.
The exercises are time efficient and effective in improving your flexibility, joint mobility and strength and you will probably find your heart rate will rise significantly too.
In all exercises you will need to maintain a strong abdomen and remember to breathe. If you are unsure about a certain exercise please post a message so I can help you work it out. I will use simple names so you understand the movements and positions you are trying to make.

There is no need for a major warm up before hand just do some shoulder circles to loosen the shoulders and also the shoulder joint mobility exercise i'll be posting next week.

Squat and rotation

As the name suggests you are aiming to squat and rotate the spine at the same time.

As you lower keep the knees pulled out using your thighs.
Choose the lowest point at the knees, mid calf, ankles or the floor.
Keep the top arm extending to the ceiling and imagine your torso is being pulled out of the hips (keep a long strong back) as you begin to stand in a smooth motion and finish in the position you started.

Try 5 times on each side and build up to 20. You should be able to go deeper each time you try it.

Super squat for posture

Start in your lowest squat position with hands relaxed in front of the shoulders.

Maintain a strong and lengthened spine (imagine your torso is being pulled from the hips) and drop the arms out in front.
As you stand up from the squat reach arms overhead (pic 3), then start again.

Try this 5 times and build up to 20