Friday, July 17, 2015

Essential Daily Exercises for Moms

How many times do we need to hear that exercise is good for us? We get it. But how do we make time for it? As I juggle the responsibilities of having 2 children, I find myself sometimes pondering what I did with all the time I used to have… or what it felt like to have 8 hours of sleep…

Being a mother is a sport in of itself; it starts out with the awkward carrying of a newborn with a floppy head, then the awkwardness of carrying and lifting a carseat, and then the bending down to pick up toys, do laundry, clean...and then the sudden bursts of energy (we’re not quite sure where it comes from) to save your toddler from plummeting off the couch. All this awkwardness can be reflected by aches and pains in the body. And we want to be spry on the dance floor when our kids get married, so I was thinking about the key exercises that can prevent injury from these repetitive activities.

1. DeadLift
Good for: picking up toys, kids, bags, etc.

Here is a simple video, just in case you have never done one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG-Stc3c7N0


2. One-Leg Balance
Good for: Keeping muscles around vertebrae and pelvis that control fine movement strong


3. Stretching
Good for: Maintaining healthy Range of Motion for joints, reducing development of painful trigger points, releasing fascia.
Instead of trying to do a full body regimen of stretching, I find it more productive to identify a few areas that are chronically contracted, and spend your time there.
Also, these are my principles for stretching (used from Aaron Mattes method for stretching)
Never stretch to ‘100%’- your body is smart and wants to avoid injury via overstretching. You will have much greater success taking your ROM to about 70-80%.
Once  you identify where that is, hold until you feel a small change. This is usually about 30 seconds. Incorporate breathing, you need to learn how to remember to breath when doing something new. Then bring your joint back to ‘normal’ to replenish blood supply (think of your muscle as a sponge being wrung out when stretching).
If you feel tingling, you most likely have gone past 80%, or you need to shorten the time of your stretch. Avoid holding a position for longer than 1 minute.
Repeat this about ten times for each side if bilatteral.

4. Deep Breathing/Relaxing
    Good for: staying sane. Also helps body flush out toxins, utilize oxygen better, and who doesn’t like an oxygen high?
    It’s my personal opinion that the diaphragm is the most neglected muscle in the exercise regimen, and perhaps the most important. Your body starts doing all sorts of strange things when it becomes stressed out, so it’s worth it to carve out time for this.
    Here’s what I do: first make a decision that this is something you want to do- being an exercise that doesn’t have the confirming results as a six pack and steel buns (still waiting for my confirmation), it takes extra commitment to keep this going.
     Preferably choose a dark, quiet space. If not, use something like I do below. Blanket, earplugs, face mask.       
    Your job is to just observe your body at first. How deep do your breaths go? What parts of your rib cage move freely or feel locked up? How fast? Any aches or pains? Spend about 1 minute doing this.
    Then, instead of taking forceful deep breaths, imagine your ribcage as a balloon, and with every breath you are going to fill it up about a millimeter higher- don’t look down, just imagine. Do this until you feel you reach a point where it is a little bit of effort. You can continue to do this, or proceed to the next step.
     Once you have identified your ‘high’ point, instead of letting the natural vacuum effect of your diaphragm, let your breath out in a slow, controlled manner. You be the judge of how slow you want to go. You may feel a little shakey in the ribcage if your diaphragm is weak.
    You can do all these steps, or just practice one. But I would spend at least 10 minutes, or get to that feel-good place. 


5. Journaling/Reflecting/Goal Setting
 First off, encourage yourself. What were you successful at this week/month? Why did it work so well? 
What things would I like to accomplish this week? What are practical steps to get them done?
How am I feeling? How is my love tank? It's common for relationships to be neglected when we are taking care of babies, but the healthier you are, the better you are going to be for your kids. Do you need a date night with your husband? Or maybe a girls night out, or some alone time at the beach? Check in with yourself every few days.

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