Every single person that has walked into my office over the last two weeks has been feeling stiff and tight. How is that possible if they are taking care of themselves regularly?
Because It is freaking cold out!!! That’s how and that’s why.
What happens to our bodies when it is extremely cold out? Our muscles tighten up to protect us. Winter is a prime season to feel old aches and pains (that you thought were gone) make a grand re-entrance. So what can you do to keep these aches and pains at bay and what should you being doing differently than in the summer months? More myo-fascial release work! More myo-what? Myo-fascial release otherwise known to many people as “rolling out” or a self-massage technique is a way to help get more mobility in your muscular tissue and help you feel less tight and more relaxed. In the winter, it’s best to do this before regular stretching. This helps to bring some blood flow to the area of the body you are working to open up so when you move on to stretching, you’re not simply tugging and pulling against tightness but effecting change.
Top three spots to roll out this January:
- Calves: Listen up, unless you get cramps here, these muscles are the absolute most under-paid-attention-to muscles when it comes to any type of body pain or discomfort. This is because unlike our necks or backs they don’t very often say, “ow” to us. But guess what, tight calves always play a roll in other muscles feeling tight. So get to your calves and help out all your other parts. What to do: Grab a foam roller and place it horizontal under your calves. Lie down on your back. Cross one leg on top of the other for more pressure. Keeping your legs straight and feet relaxed rock slowly from side to side gently “mushing” your calf muscle against the roller. Do this in segments from the bottom to the top of the calf (moving it higher or lower as needed). Repeat on the other side. Follow by standing up and doing your favorite calf stretch…gently please.
- Feet: When it’s cold we tend to clench our feet instead of letting them spread on to the ground (see #1. calves). Your feet are also spending a lot more time in shoes and lot less time in contact with the ground. Grab a ball with a density appropriate for your feet (softer like a tennis ball for those with sensitive feet, a lacrosse ball for the aggressive types, and a pinky ball for everyone in the middle) and put it on the floor underneath your foot. You can do this exercise seated (even at the office!) or standing (which will allow you to get more pressure on the ball). Now roll the ball across the foot (side to side) and then the length of the foot (toe to heel) very very slowly. Don’t kick it around. Instead, mush into it like it’s gooey. Mush it! Act like you’re trying to massage the ball.
- Shoulders: You hold tension in your shoulders. We all do. (You know that spot next to your neck when you’re spending too much time sitting at the computer looking at a screen that starts to hunch up?) That’s what we’re aiming for with this roll out. I want you to stand with your back against the wall. Place the ball between your shoulder and the wall. The ball wants to be pretty high on your back. Take a couple steps away from the wall, so that you are pushing into the ball on the wall. You’re in charge of how far away you go and how much pressure you give in this. Roll the ball from the spot right next to your spine, all the way out to your shoulder’s edge and back. Then do the the other shoulder. Please don’t press on your spine by rolling across the center of your back.
There are so many more awesome spots to roll out that we hold tension but start with these 3 and you’ll be better off!
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