Among the simple home workout exercises, plank exercises are great when it comes to maintaining a good-looking torso. Furthermore, planks workout is encouraged by trainers and professionals as a great home workout exercise for anyone. It can be performed in different ways, but the main one includes lying in a press-up position with your weight resting on your elbow, forearm, and toes.
You can also get it done by adjusting the lying position such that the front of your waist forms a bend as your body weight rests on your hands and feet. The plank exercises are also effective in engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
WHY YOU SHOULD DO PLANKS
1. BACK STRENGTHENING THROUGH PLANKS
The plank exercises are quite simple to do and are mostly used to strengthen the core muscles. However, unlike a variety of other core strengthening exercises, the plank workout will ensure that your back remains in good shape. In fact, this exercise builds your upper back.
The other good thing about this exercise is that it doesn’t cause any back strain or unnecessary extension of the spine. Your back remains in its natural position as you do the exercise.
2. CORE STRENGTH
You body is divided into two main parts: the upper (it includes the head and torso section) and lower body. Planks help strengthen core part of the body. This part mainly consists of bones, muscles, and joints that connect both the upper and lowers parts of the body. Considering the fact that we have to engage the core on a daily basis: when turning, reaching out for something, bending, and lifting, it’s health is very critical for our body.
The core muscles of the body that get engaged during a planks workout include the rectus abdominus, the transverse abdominus, the external oblique muscles, and the glutes. (2) A regular workout routine that involves planks will help ease your daily tasks and improve your overall strength.
3. TUMMY FLATTENING
Getting a flat tummy needs a lot of dedication. There are those that will do multiple crunches and sit-ups daily. There are others that will use the ab wheel. All these methods help in flattening the tummy, but they do come with risks of back injury.
Studies show that plank exercise offer a better solution when it comes to working towards that flat and toned stomach. According to an editorial posted in Navy Times, sit-ups are old and outdated because they have been used for years.
In addition to this, crunches can be difficult to perform appropriately. Those that do them wrongly may later develop increased lower back pains due to poor positioning. Furthermore, research shows that a planks workout is likely to activate your six-pack muscles faster than crunches.
4. ENHANCED FLEXIBILITY
The main reason as to why professional trainers encourage people to do functional exercises is because they help the body to remain limber and agile for longer. This is an excellent way to keep the body free from aches, pains, and body injuries that can develop if you are unfit.
The plank exercise is a functional workout. This exercise provides the muscles, tendons, and ligaments with elasticity that make you look a few years younger that you actually are.
When the plank exercise is performed daily together with other simple exercises, you will be able to fully stretch out and expand the muscles located around the limbs, shoulders, shoulder blades, collarbone, and hamstrings. This workout can help you get rid of the strain that comes with extended hours of sitting at an office desk.
5. AN INCREASE IN METABOLISM
Unlike cardiovascular exercises, plank exercises generally enhance core strength, which help build-up a higher metabolic rate even after working out. While cardio exercises will generally help you burn more fat and calories as compared to planks, they don’t affect your metabolic rate that much.
In fact, the minute you stop doing cardiovascular exercises, the metabolic rate returns back to normal. On the other hand, your body continues to burn more calories after doing a plank exercise. This alone shows that planks are an efficient way of burning fat and for increasing metabolism.
6. BETTER BALANCE AND POSTURE
Just like every other exercise, the plank exercise will take you a while to get used to them because they are not that easy. However, after practicing for a specific period, you’ll notice that your core and overall body strength will significantly increase.
The positioning required when doing a plank requires a neutral spine that helps boost body balance and posture, which will in turn help you stand or sit straighter as compared to what you were used to before.
If your office job requires you to sit for long hours, you can easily suffer from postural deficiencies such as posterior pelvic tilt and lordosis. (3) Most of these conditions are caused by abdomen or hip flexor weaknesses that happen due to poor posture. Doing regular planks will help keep both the back and stomach muscles strong enough, giving you the right posture as you perform your daily tasks.
7. IMPROVED BONE AND JOINT HEALTH
An important organ that people tend to forget when keeping fit is bone and joint health. Even though the above organs can be improved through healthy nutrition, it is always good to make sure that you strengthen them during your workouts. You can do this by performing the plank exercise.
This exercise is a good weight-bearing workout because it puts pressure on the bones and causes them to rebuild themselves. Your bone tissues need constant stimulation to remain healthy. You have to get rid of the old bones and allow the body to build new ones so that you can have better muscle movement.
In most cases, the rate at which new bones get replaced by old ones is affected by age. After you reach 30 years, you lose bone tissue faster than you regain new ones. This is why older people tend to be a bit slow. You can do the plank exercise to help you regulate this rate and make sure that you mature well.
8. BETTER MOODS
The good thing about workouts is that they can help uplift your spirits. The plank exercise is not any different because it can help you increase your energy levels. It’s important to take note that prolonged sitting can bring about serious neck, muscle and back pains especially if no exercise and stretching are involved.
The pains negatively affect your attitude and moods. You get tired pretty quickly and can’t wait to leave the office. You wonder whether you are doing something meaningful with your life. You just question everything because you are not feeling okay.
The plank exercise is vital since it helps to keep the brain calm. The exercise works your core section and minimizes the occurrence of pain. In the end, it helps keep stress levels low, leaving you in a better mood.
9. IT MAKES IT EASIER FOR YOU TO COMPLETE DAILY TASKS
The plank is a functional exercise, meaning that it’s meant to help you with the performance of daily activities. The tasks could be walking, sitting, turning, working or even studying. The plank pose lets you bear your body weight, which results in better core strength and overall body functionality.
Unlike other workout routines that tend to focus on specific muscle groups, the plank gives you an all-rounded experience. It works on multiple muscle groups at the same time. This allows you to build muscle in all the important areas. That way, it becomes easier to do most tasks that involve multiple muscle groups.
10. YOU’LL LOVE IT
The good thing about being consistent in dieting and exercise is that the result will encourage you to push yourself further. When you commit to doing the plank at least 4 times a week, you create a formidable spine and strengthen your entire core. The exercise helps to shape your abs and oblique, straighten your back muscles, strengthen your chest, forearm, and glutes.
That means that the exercise helps you to maintain the perfect body shape. You’ll love doing it because it helps to boost your self-esteem. In order, to do the exercise properly, lie in the press up position. Then, bend your elbows at a 90 degree angle while placing your entire weight on the forearms.
You back should be straight throughout. Avoid dropping your head as this could spoil the exercise. Workout your core by pulling you tummy towards the spine and maintain the position for about 10 to 30 seconds. It may be hard at first, but constant practice will make you good at it.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON PLANKS
The plank exercise is an efficient way of toughening the body and firming up the core muscles. It’s vital that you practice the pose during your regular gym or home workouts so as to get the best out of your exercise session.
Lower back pain is a common issue, affecting about 60-80% of Americans. Its intensity can range from a slight stiffness or soreness to a painful sting or a “shocking” feeling, as it can be caused by various factors.
The low back supports the weight of the upper body and provides mobility for everyday motions like bending and twisting. Muscles in this area are responsible for flexing and rotating the hips while walking, and supporting the spinal column, while the nerves in the low back power the muscles in the pelvis, legs, and feet.
In most cases, acute low back pain is caused by injuries to the muscles, ligaments, joints, or discs. The pain might start suddenly, or slowly, and gradually aggravate over time.
Depending on the underlying cause of the pain, the symptoms can differ:
These exercises will provide a greater range of motion, stabilize the core, and improve body posture, preventing injuries.
The following six exercises will help you alleviate lower back pain:
1. Camel Pose
Kneel down, with the hands behind you on the bottom of the feet. Push the hips up and forward, to stretch the abdominal muscles, and boost core stability.
2. Wide Forward Fold
Sit on the floor, with the knees bent and the spine upright. Straighten the legs and round the back while reaching for your feet with both hands. This will open up the hips, boost mobility and prevent straining or spraining the back.
3. Frog Pose
Start on all fours, widen the knees to feel a tension in your groin muscles, and push against the floor with the hips to open them up more.
4. Wide Side Lunge Pose
Start with the feet facing forward in a wide stance, and the legs straight. Use the hands to “walk” to your right foot and bend the right knee while rotating the left foot to make the toes pointing towards the ceiling. The right foot should remain on the floor. Repeat on the opposite side.
5. Butterfly Stretch
While sitting on the floor, the soles of the feet touching each other and the back straight, press down on the knees with the hands to induce the stretch.
6. Forearm Extensor Stretch
Extend one arm out with the elbow straight. Use the other hand to grasp it at the side of the thumb, bend the wrist downward, and hold for 20-30 seconds.
For best effects, perform these exercises consecutively, spending about a minute on each stretch. If done regularly, your lower back pain will soon be drastically reduced!
Without doubt, motherhood is one of the most rewarding periods in life; however, being a mother brings a lot of unwanted bodily changes.
Of course, the ability of a woman’s body to grow a life and change is an amazing thing; however, many mommies struggle with protruding belly even months after giving birth.
Luckily for you, doing the right exercises can help speed up the healing and restore your belly to “normal”. Continue reading our article to check out the seven best exercises for a flat belly and strong core.
Strengthening the Diastasis Recti with these 10 Exercises
Diastasis recti is a sign of surplus pressure in the abdomen and pelvis. Namely, during pregnancy, the stretching of the abdominal muscles can cause the muscles which meet in the centre of the abdomen to divide.
Consequently, a bulge in the middle section is created. In some women, the muscles may be more stretched than in others and this causes the belly protrusion to be even bigger.
Here are the best exercises to help heal the post-baby pooch caused by diastasis recti:
Lie down on your back and bring the legs up to 90 degrees with the knees bent. Breathe out and pull in the belly button towards the spine. Breathe out and gradually drop the right heel onto the floor. Breathe in and then breathe out and return the leg in the primary pose. Switch between legs- each leg needs to touch the floor 10 times.
Lie on your back with the face toward the ceiling. Bend the knees, hip-width apart while the feet are flat on the floor. Keep the arms by the sides and activate the abs and press down through your heels and lift up the hips. Squeeze in the glutes while up. Stay for a couple of seconds in the pose before gradually going down. Do 10 reps.
To get into the side plank pose, put one forearm with the elbow directly underneath the shoulder. Bend the knee which is on the bottom so that the foot behind helps with support. Now, activate the core and pull in the stomach towards the spine. Straighten up the body towards the ceiling. Breathe deeply and stay in the pose for 10 breaths. Do the same on the other side.
Body weight squats
While in a standing position with the feet shoulder-width apart, breathe in and lower the body. Stay soft in the pelvic floor. Go down as much as you can and then breathe out before you go up gradually. Do 2 sets of 20 reps.
While lying down on your back, lift the legs to a tabletop pose and a 90-degree bend in the knees. Tap the toes onto the floor and alternate between the legs. The lower back needs to be touching the floor all the time. Follow your breath and go slowly. Do 10 taps with each foot.
While standing with the feet hip-width apart in front of a wall, bend the knees and hips and squat down. The back needs to be flat against the wall. Stay in the pose and do one core compression (pulling the stomach towards the spine. Relax and repeat for 2 to 3 minutes.
While on all fours, tighten the abs and keep the neck and spine in neutral pose- looking into the floor. Extend the left leg behind you and reach the right arm forward. Keep the balance in the hips. Do not arch the lower back. Stay for 10 seconds in the pose before gradually going into the primary pose. Repeat the same with the other leg and arm. Do 10 reps on each side.
The pain and tension in the shoulders and neck are highly uncomfortable. They do not necessarily stem from the same region as the pain, as neck pain might be caused by a shoulder impingement, and pain in the shoulder can be a result of some tension in the neck.
However, the entire back side of the body is interconnected via the superficial back line, which stretches from the forehead, down the spine and the back of the legs, to the bottom of your feet. This means that a dysfunction anywhere in this line can cause pain in the certain area.
The pain and discomfort in the shoulders and neck are usually a result of the following causes:
Stress- It causes mental and physical tension in the body
Tech-Neck (Forward Head Posture)- We spend multiple hours staring at the cell phones, PC, or television screen, and this position stretches the neck extensors and weakens the neck flexors
Reaching Forward (Rounded Shoulder Posture)- The chronic use of phones and computers leads to rounded shoulder posture
The following exercises will help you enhance the mobility and stability of the neck and shoulders, strengthen the muscles of the back, and reduce the stress:
Thoracic Extension | 3-5 reps
Sitting on the floor, with the mid back resting on a foam roller or a rolled-up bath towel, and the head supported in the hands, breathe out and stretch the spine back over the roller. Inhale to hold, exhale, and return to the initial position.
Open Book | 5 reps per side
While lying with the knees bent in front, and the hands over the ears and the elbows pointing forward, breathe in and try to reach the top elbow to the ceiling. Breathe out and open the top elbow to the back side to touch the ground. Hold for a few seconds, relax the shoulders, breathe in, breathe out, and return to the initial position.
Scapula Slide | 10-15 reps
Start on all fours, with the wrists under the shoulders and knees under hips, press firmly into the palms and fingertips, while the elbows are straight. Breathe in, slide the shoulder blades (scapula) together, breathe out, press into the hands, and go back to the starting position.
Head Tilt | 2 min
Sit down or kneel, and keep the head stacked directly above the shoulders and the arms by the sides. Breathe in, breathe out, and lower the left ear towards the left shoulder. Hold, and repeat on the other side. Next, breathe out and turn the head to look over the right shoulder, breathe in again, and return to center. Exhale, and look over the left shoulder.
Shoulder Shrug | 10 reps
Start in the same position, inhale, and elevate the shoulders up towards the ears. Breathe out, and return them down, feeling the blades settle on the back.
Neck Retractions | 6-8 reps
Lying on the back, with the knees bent, and the arms down by the side, breathe in, and jut the chin forward to the ceiling, while the back of the head remains on the floor. Then, breathe out, and retract the chin in towards the throat.
Neck Roll | 3 circles per side
Sit down or kneel, inhale, exhale and gently lower the left ear towards the left shoulder. Bring the chin towards the chest, breathe in, and bring the right ear towards the right shoulder. Reverse the circle.
Kneeling Arm Circle | 3-5 reps per arm
From the same initial position, face the palms in and the thumb forward. Breathe in, reach the left arm straight up to the ceiling, and hold. Exhale, rotate the palm away from your body and circle the arm until it is back down by the hip, palm facing out and baby finger forward. Inhale and reverse the circle, pause, and return to the initial position.
Wing Span | 2 min
Start seated on a chair, with the head stacked directly above the shoulders and the arms stretched directly out to the side, in line with the shoulders. Inhale, and reach the arm up overhead, palm forward. The left arm should be down by your hip, bend the elbows and reach the fingers towards each other at the center of the back. Hold, and return to the starting position.
Furthermore, massage has been proven to be an effective remedy in the case of neck and shoulder pain.
According to Dr.Mercola:
“Stronger massage stimulates blood circulation to improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues and helps your lymphatic system to flush away waste products. It eases tense and knotted muscles and stiff joints, improving mobility, and flexibility.
Massage is said to increase the activity of the vagus nerve, one of 10 cranial nerves, that affects the secretion of food-absorption hormones, heart rate, and respiration. It has proven to be an effective therapy for a variety of health conditions — particularly stress-related tension. As reported by iVillage:
“[A] … study from Thailand suggests that traditional Thai massage can decrease pain intensity, muscle tension, and anxiety among people with shoulder pain. Meanwhile, research from the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami in Florida found that when adults with hand pain had four weeks of massage therapy, they reported a lot less pain, anxiety, and depression.
Another study at the Touch Research Institute found that when pregnant women who were depressed received massages from their partners twice a week, they had much less leg and back pain and fewer symptoms of depression during the second half of their pregnancies.”
Additionally, here are several effective methods that have been confirmed to be able to soothe the pain and avoid prescription drugs:
Infrared laser therapy
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Sedentary lifestyles keep ruining our overall health in numerous ways, and the best way to counteract these effects is to start exercising regularly and be more physically active.
Physical inactivity has been shown to contribute to the development of various health conditions, such as:
Yet, most of us decide to spend them in front of the TV, snacking, or scrolling down on Facebook, instead of doing something to get in shape. If you are too busy to hit the gym, you have still no excuse for not working out, as there are some amazing workout programs that can be done anytime, at home!
A popular fitness trainer, Denise Austin, recommends a routine that involves 5 simple chair exercises suitable for busy women and workaholics, that will help you get the body of your dreams:
You have surely already heard about the power of planks, as this exercise is apparently one of the most powerful ways to strengthen the body and get into shape. It is a full-body workout that activates a series of muscles in the body, like the muscles of the back, abs, and pelvis, but is especially beneficial for the core.
The primary core muscles are transversusabdominis, obliques, multifidus, rectus abdominis, the diaphragm, and erector spinae, while the secondary core muscles include the latissimusdorsi, trapezius and the gluteus maximus.
By activating the core, planks offer numerous other benefits, such as:
Traditional, classic planks will activate your abs, biceps, buttocks, quadriceps, shins, and shoulders, and reduce upper and lower back pain.
Here are the instructions you need to do a proper classic plank:
Lie on the floor, in a pre-pushup posture. Push the upper and lower body off the ground, and activate the abs even more and as you push yourself up on the forearms. The forearms should be at a 90-degree angle, with the elbows just below the shoulders.
Your body should be straight and parallel to the floor, while you are relying on the strength of your forearms and toes. To stimulate the core even more, suck the belly inwards.
Initially, hold the position for 10 seconds, release, and return to the initial posture. Yet, you should gradually increase the time.
If you find the plank too difficult to hold, you can modify it, and progress over time.
For instance, you can start by simply leaning up against a wall and slowly reducing the angle of your body until the hands progress from the wall to table-height, to chair-height and then the floor.
Remember, breathing is the most important thing to get stronger and hold the plank. The more you breathe, the more oxygen your muscles get for fuel, and the less you will focus on the difficulty.
Breathe steadily, and remember to engage your glute muscles. You should also squeeze the buttocks hard, and hold the time. You will also be more stable if you keep the feet wider.
You will get used to it over time, and the effects of planks will definitely stimulate you to continue exercising!
Unfortunately, bad body posture is an epidemic these days, mostly due to the fact that we spend our time working on the desk, staring at the computers or smartphones, and sitting.
Body posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down.
Good posture is the proper alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity. Yet, we do not consciously maintain normal posture, but there are some muscles which have this role.
The most important muscle groups in maintaining good body posture include the hamstrings and large back muscles. These groups of postural muscles, when functioning properly, do not allow the forces of gravity to push us over forward, while our ligaments help to hold the skeleton together.
Postural muscles also maintain body posture and balance during movement. Good posture aids all our movements and activities and ensures the body is in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities.
Correct posture ensures our muscles are used properly, reduces the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could cause degenerative arthritis and joint pain, and the stress on ligaments that hold the spinal joints together, preventing injuries and pain.
Additionally, it helps the body to use less energy as the muscles work more efficiently, and thus prevents muscle fatigue.
A proper body posture is gained by adequate flexibility and strength, normal joint motion in the spine and other body areas, efficient postural muscles balanced on both sides of the spine.
Poor body posture can also be a result of bad sleeping positions, stress, weak muscles, slouching, anxiety, tight muscles, low self-confidence, or being overweight.
However, the longer you ignore it, the more difficult it would be to correct the bad posture. Over time, slouching and bad posture can lead to shoulder and back pain, headaches, stiffness, fatigue, sciatica, muscle strain, poor circulation, injuries, joint pain, stiffness, muscle strain, nerve compression, muscle atrophy, difficulty breathing, and digestion issues.
Fortunately, you can improve bad body posture by exercising, and as you strengthen the muscles, you will notice great improvements.
Here are the top exercises and stretches you should try:
Lay down, with the hands on the floor, and the palms facing down under the shoulders. Breathe in as you elevate the ribs off the floor, lungs forward, and your shoulders back, but without crunching the neck. Hold for 30 seconds.
Upright Snow Angels
With the knees slightly bent, press the lower and upper back and head against the wall. Press the back of the arms against the wall while the fingers are pushed against it. Move the arms above the head while pushing the body against the wall. Repeat 10 times.
While lying on your stomach, with the forehead on the ground and the arms on the sides, press the palms on the thighs, straighten the elbows, and squeeze the legs together with the toes outwards. Breathe out, elevate the head, chest, and upper abdomen, and lower them while inhaling. Repeat 10 times.
Pectoral Doorway Stretch
Stand inside the doorway with the right arm at 90 degrees and the forearm against the door frame, and the bent elbow at shoulder height. Rotate the chest to the left, and hold for half a minute. Repeat with the other arm.
While lying on your stomach with the knees bent, bring them to the hips, grab the feet with the hands, and lift the chest, knees and head off the mat. Inhale and kick the legs while letting the arms go naturally with them. Exhale and repeat 5 times.
Start in a press-up position, with the body weight on the forearms, while the elbows bend on the ground. Engage the core, and hold for a minute.
Broom Shoulder Stretch
Hold a band or a broomstick in front of you with an overhand wide grip. Raise it over the head and all the way around and back until you hit the buttocks. Make 10 repetitions.
Start on all fours, with the palms under the shoulders, and knees below the hips. Inhale, pull the belly in and stretch the back like a cat with the tailbone, curve the back, and drop the head. Then, return to the initial position, and stretch the head and tailbone up. Make 5 repetitions.
Start lying with the back, with a foam roller perpendicular to the spine and across the shoulders. Raise the glutes up, and move back and forth with the help of the heels. Keep rolling, and when you feel discomfort, hold there for 30 seconds.
Pectoral Ball Smash
Place a tennis ball between the chest near the shoulder and the wall, and roll it around until you find a tight spot with discomfort. Hold there for 20 seconds to release the knot and smooth the fascia. Roll the ball again to find more such spots.
You will get the best effects if you do these exercises daily, or at least 4 times a week. Over time, they will help you improve your posture, reduce slouching, and strengthen the muscles.
Additionally, follow these tips to improve your posture:
The shoulders are the most mobile body joints, and the back has a complex structure that is supported by small and large muscles. Unfortunately, shoulder and back pain are common issues nowadays and are often linked to our sedentary lifestyles, health conditions, and injuries.
However, the pain and tightness in these areas can be relieved in a natural way, by practicing yoga.
Yoga is an ancient practice that unites the mind and body. Its name is derived from the Sanskrit word “Yuji,” meaning yoke or union. It incorporates breathing exercises, poses, and meditation, which lower stress and stimulate relaxation.
Numerous studies have confirmed the impressive benefits of yoga for mental and physical health.
Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California, claims:
“The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness, and harmony in both the mind and body. While there are more than 100 different types, or schools, of yoga, most sessions typically include breathing exercises, meditation, and assuming postures (sometimes called asana or poses) that stretch and flex various muscle groups.
As an osteopathic physician, I focus a lot of my efforts on preventive medicine and practices, and in the body’s ability to heal itself. Yoga is a great tool for staying healthy because it’s based on similar principles.
Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate. Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life.
Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention, and sharpens concentration. Body- and self-awareness are particularly beneficial because they can help with early detection of physical problems and allow for early preventive action.”
“The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.”
The following gentle poses can boost your general flexibility, alleviate pain, and treat these issues:
Supported puppy pose
Begin in a tabletop position with the hips stacked over your knees, and the two blocks down in front of the hands on the lowest height. Walk the hands towards the top of the mat, and place your elbows on the blocks.
Lower the chest towards the floor, and bring the forehead to rest on the mat. Bring the palms to touch while the elbows are on the blocks, and bend them to bring the hands behind the nape of your neck. Lower the chest towards the ground, and hold for eight breaths.
Start on the floor in a tabletop position. Place two blocks shoulder-width distance apart at the top of the mat, and bring the big toes together to touch. Take the knees out wide, sit on the hips back onto the heels, and walk the hands forward. Place the hands on the blocks, allow the forehead to rest down and close the eyes. Hold for eight deep breaths.
Bound locust pose
Lie with the face down and the arms straight down alongside your body. Untuck the toes and bring the legs together. You should interlace your fingers behind the lower back, and breathe in to elevate the head, chest, arms, legs, and feet off the ground. Then, raise the hands up and away from the body, and hold for 5 breaths.
Put block going lengthwise down the center of the mat, set on the medium or lowest setting. Then, place another one going across the top of the mat on the same height to support the head.
Lower the body down so that the block rests between the shoulder blades. The top block should rest under the head like a pillow, and the arms should be to the sides, with the palms facing up. Keep the feet flat on the mat. Close the eyes and hold for eight breaths.
Thread the needle
Start in a tabletop position, elevate the right arm to feel the stretch on the side, and slide the right hand between the left hand and left knee to “thread the needle.” the right shoulder and right side of the head should rest comfortably on the floor.
Then, walk the left fingers towards the top of the mat. Hold for eight breaths, walk the left palm back under the left shoulder and press back up to a tabletop. Switch sides.
While lying on the belly, and supporting the upper body in the forearms, bring the right arm across the mat to the left side, and do the same with the left arm to the opposite side. Stretch the arms underneath the chest, place the forehead on a yoga block to relax your neck, and hold for 8 breaths. Then, switch sides.
Cow face arms
Sit with the legs crossed on a yoga block, raise the right arm bend it down to the upper back, while holding one end of a towel. Grab the other end with the left arm, bring the hands together, and lift the chest. Then, bring the back of the head onto the right forearm, and hold for 8 breaths. Switch sides.
Lie on the back with the legs straight down the mat. Hug the right knee into the chest, interlacing your fingers around the top of the chin, breathe in deeply, and exhale to guide the right thigh across the body to come into a twist. Then, straighten the right arm out to the right, place the left hand on the outer right thigh to deepen the twist, and look over the right shoulder. Close the eyes and hold for 8 breaths. Switch sides.
Low lunge twist
Start in a high plank position, step the right foot between the hands, and the knee above your ankle. Lower the back knee to the floor, and untuck the toes. Place a block inside of the right foot, place the left hand on the block, and inhale to reach the right hand towards the sky.
The chon should be tilted a bit towards the chest. Hold for 5 breaths, and switch sides.
It is actually awesome when one actually realizes that age does not limit us, and we are never too old to start doing something new or make a change! Ernestine Shepherd is the world’s fittest grandma bodybuilder at the age of 82!
She was born on June 16th, 1936, in Baltimore, Maryland, and she didn’t even start exercising until she was 56 years old!
This incredibly strong and bold woman gets up at 2:30 am and does her daily devotionals and meditation. Then, she has her high-protein breakfast and leaves the house to go on a run.
She’s lifting weights at the gym by 7:30 am, teaches workout classes until 11:30 am, and afterward, she returns home to her husband, for her lunch. Then, she goes back to the gym, where she trains people of all ages from around 5:30 pm to 7 pm.
The Independent reports:
“In addition to her exhausting-sounding fitness routine, Ernie eats five to six small meals a day. These often include oatmeal, a handful of walnuts and crushed pineapple for breakfast, a baked white potato, chicken and asparagus as one of her lunches followed by brown rice, turkey and string beans and then sweet potato, tuna, and spinach.
These meals are also interspersed with 8oz glasses of liquid egg whites. After finishing her meal plans for the day, she tends to turn into bed at 10 pm although “sometimes I’m up until 11” leaving just a mere three and a half hours before she wakes up and kick-starts her day all over again.
“I find that is enough sleep for me. I don’t take naps. I’m so happy to do what I do and I thank God for giving me the energy, strength, and willpower to do this,” she says.”
She got into fitness when her sister Velvet suggested it as a way to get into the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest bodybuilding sisters in the world.
However, Velvet died soon afterward from a brain aneurysm, and this made Ernestine depressed. She even developed high blood pressure and stopped taking proper care of her health.
However, she soon decided to continue their goal and honor the promise she gave to her sister, and eventually, she ended up in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest bodybuilder in the world.
Her motto is: ‘Never give up.’ She also adds:
“I’ve had so many things to happen to me and for me. My husband and son back me up 100 percent. Without them, I don’t know what I would do. Everything I have wanted to do, they have been right there.”
She recently turned 82 years!
She started exercising when she was 56!
Back pain affects millions of people worldwide and can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle, injuries, stress, and more. Its intensity can range from mild to severe.
Yet, only a few people are aware of the fact that our feet can also contribute to back pain, as they play a major role in our movement, and are vital for our body posture.
Triad Foot Center explains:
“Lower back pain, also known as lumbosacral pain, can be caused by conditions related to your feet. Pain in the lower back is sometimes caused by over-pronation of the foot, which occurs when the arch of the foot ‘collapses’.
Over time, the foot rolls inward, and thus the leg itself begins to rotate inward. The pelvis tilts forward, which increases the curvature of the lower back. Standing for long periods of time can aggravate this condition by causing your back muscles to tighten. Stiffness and discomfort in the lower back are the results. Other conditions caused by over-pronation are misaligned bones, hammertoes, bunions, and knee pain.”
Moreover, according to Dr. Paul Ross, a foot specialist at The Podiatry Center:
“Flat feet, in particular, can cause misalignment with the ankle, which causes joints to connect differently, which can cause misalignment in the knee joint. That can affect your hips, which also affects the way you walk. That affects the spine, especially your lower back. It makes sense that this could happen… our feet are actually pretty delicate and our bodies are complex.”
Here are some beneficial foot exercises that can help you treat back pain without using painkillers:
Toe pressing activates the blood flow in the feet and thus alleviates the pain in the back. Stand upright on the floor with the knees bent, and grip the floor with the toes. Hold for 3 seconds, and repeat 10 times with each foot.
Try walking on the toes for 20 seconds daily, in order to strengthen the tendons and muscles and soothe the back pain.
Sit on the floor and cross one of the legs over the other. Then, stretch the toes in all directions three times, and repeat with the other foot.
Toe pencil grip
Stand upright with the knees bent, put a pencil on the floor, and try to grab it with the toes. Hold it for a few seconds, relax, and repeat several times.
Heel tendon stretch
Stand in front of a wall, stretch one leg in front of you, bend the right knee while moving the hips toward the wall, and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
While lying on the floor, stretch the legs in front of you, and wrap a towel around the feet. Raise them with the knees straight, and hold when the knee is just over the head. Repeat with the other leg.
Lying on the floor, stretch one leg up, and circle the ankle for up to 15 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
Sit on the floor with one leg in front of you, and bend the other under the thigh. Try to reach the toes and move them around for half a minute. Repeat with the other leg.
Resistance bend stretch
Sit down on the floor, with a chair in front of you. Wrap one end of a resistance band on the chair and the other on the feet. Pull back as much as you can, hold for 15 seconds, and make 10 repetitions.
Step on a tennis ball on the floor with the arch, and start pushing it back and forward to massage the foot.
The following video will show some effective stretches to help you alleviate back, knee, and hip pain: