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Winter Workout Blues

Photo by Jamie Netzer
It is that time of year again when we do all we can to prepare for the intense holiday bustle while battling the elements and often times damaging our bodies in the process. In a losing effort against the clock we are typically guilty of performing physically difficult tasks such as shoveling snow, moving heavy boxes, setting up awkward trees and decorating the house beyond even the Grandchildren’s wildest dreams. And all needed to be done yesterday!

Each year these tasks become more and more difficult as the snow, the boxes, the tree and even the little decorations are seemingly becoming heavier and harder to handle. Finding that we are out of time and unable to perform simple exercise seems to be the rule and not the exception. But, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, the daily maintenance of our bodies physically via simple exercise enables us to accomplish these tasks with increased ease and without injury.

The fact is muscles and tendons in our bodies are ‘elastic’ in nature, but become increasingly ‘plastic’ and more likely to be damaged as we venture further from our early adult years. So what do we do? Maintain That Flexibility! Maintain That Strength!

These simple tips for stretches and gentle exercises, as recommended by the American Physical Therapy Association, can help you maintain your flexibility and strength sustaining your daily routine without injury.

  1. Don’t stretch too hard, too fast. You’ll pay for it later with muscle pain.
  2. Avoid bouncing. Maintain a gradual gentle pressure when stretching. 5 reps of 10 to 30 seconds in sufficient for most people.
  3. Move through a pain-free ROM (range of motion) at a slow and stable speed.
  4. Don’t over-do it. Typically 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps are a good start when strengthening.
  5. Breath! Exhale when straining, inhale when returning to resting position.

  1. “V” Exercise: Sitting in good posture begin with your arms crossed across your lap and thumbs pointing towards your hips. Then raise your arms up to assume the “V” shape. Hold and repeat again.
  2. Calf Stretch: Standing up straight at the kitchen sink, begin with one leg behind and one forward. Keeping the rear leg straight and locked move your hips forward, bending the front knee while keeping the rear foot flat on the floor. Feel a gentle stretch up the back of the leg.
  3. Forward/Backward Bends: Standing with feet apart and secure balance, slowly lower your hands down along your thighs reaching for the floor. Pause and return to standing erect. Then, with hands on the back of your hips slowly bend backwards a comfortable distance. Pause and then return to standing erect.

  1. Punches: Holding onto a light weight, or even a can of canned vegetables punch forward alternating arms while sitting or standing in good posture.
  2. Sink Squats: Stand at the kitchen sink and hold on. Place a chair behind you for safety. Squat down touching your rear to the chair and raise back up.
  3. Calf/Toe Raises: Again at the sink, hold on while advancing up onto your toes, and then back onto your heels.
By maintaining your strength and flexibility you can absolutely avoid injuries to your spine and extremities throughout the holidays and all year long. Try to do these simple exercises each day in an effort to maintain and avoid problems down the road. Slowly progress your repetitions or weights for increased intensity if you desire. However, if you are unable to perform any or all of these due to pain, weakness or tightness don’t hesitate to consult with your Physician and/or local Physical Therapist. You don’t have to live in pain as there are professionals trained to help you. Be Well!

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