Do you find it impossible to achieve a comfortable position at your desk by mid afternoon? The problem could be a lack of movement. Your body was made to move, but modern lifestyles often result in remaining sedentary longer than at any other time in human history.
How can you incorporate more movement into your life and feel better any time of day? Learn how you can combat stiffness and increase mobility with these five exercises.
One of the best ways to combat stiffness and lower back pain is to improve your core strength. Planks are among the most effective core exercises for allover strengthening, incorporating your rectus abdominis muscles (the “six-pack”), transverse abdominis, and internal and external obliques.
To perform this move, start in a pushup position. Then, hold the pose as you pull your tummy muscles tight. It’s wise to start small — maybe 15 or 30 seconds — and gradually build up to a minute or more.
Fun variations of this pose include:
- Elbow planks – Come down to your elbows instead of an upright pushup position, as the name suggests. This variation is helpful if you have wrist pain or carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Side planks – These incorporate more of your internal and external obliques. Roll to one side, either stacking the feet or crossing one leg in front. Keep your bottom knee on the ground if you need an even gentler variation to build strength.
Thrusters are the ultimate full-body strengthener, making them ideal for combating stiffness and increasing mobility. They also incorporate a cardiovascular component, helping you blast away mental fog with a quick burst of oxygen to your brain.
It helps to have dumbbells for this exercise, but you can substitute other heavy objects — for example, books or water bottles if you’re at the office. Hold one in each hand, placing the weights on your shoulders as if preparing for a military press. Drop into a squat. As you stand, extend your arms overhead in a shoulder press.
3. Sun Salutations
Sun salutations can hit all three components of a well-rounded fitness program — strength, cardio and flexibility — in one movement. Try performing the following variation when you want a quick burn to combat stiffness and increase overall mobility:
- Begin in mountain pose – Stand up straight with your feet hips’ width apart and your back straight. Inhale as you raise your hands overhead.
- Forward fold – Exhale as you bend forward into a fold, holding along your lower legs or touching your toes or the floor if it’s within your range of motion. Inhale to a flat spine, exhale as you bend your knees and place your hands on the floor.
- Plank to chaturanga – Hop back into a plank position. If doing so hurts your lower back, step back instead. Keep your elbows in as you slowly lower your upper body toward the ground with control. Use your arm strength to push you back into an upward dog or cobra position.
- Downward-facing dog – Tuck your toes and raise your hips, creating an inverted “V” shape. Take a deep breath as you feel the stretch down the back of your body. Then, lift on your toes, bend your knees and hop your feet forward to meet your hands. Surrender to a forward fold before rising to stand once again in mountain pose.
You can also slow this movement down and take out the hops. Why not play with several variations, mindfully choosing the pace your body needs?
4. Tai Chi Twists
Your spine is made to rotate, not move in a single linear plane. This movement strengthens your core while gently stretching your torso muscles and improving blood flow.
Stand upright with your knees soft and legs at shoulders’ width. Twist to either side, letting your arms swing like pendulums — it might help to visualize the denden from “Karate Kid 2.” Repeat until your core feels toned and tightened.
5. Allover Yoga
Yoga has existed for thousands of years because it works. It’s perhaps the best way to combat stiffness and increase mobility — and you don’t have to join a shala or studio to incorporate it into your life.
Instead, reap the benefits by starting and ending your day with a few minutes of practice at home. Doing so could combat back pain, and you can find dozens of short videos on YouTube for free to help you get started.
You may discover that you love the benefits as you grow in your practice, reaping mental and emotional rewards. If so, honor your healthy new routine by dedicating a quiet space in your home. Simple measures like lighting a candle can help you shut out distractions and make your exercise time into a mind-body celebration.
Combat Stiffness And Increase Mobility Through Exercise
If you feel uncomfortably stiff by midday, you could need more movement in your life. Remaining sedentary can harm your health.
Fortunately, you improve your mobility with these exercises. Master the above moves and you’ll be on your way to improved wellbeing.