Being flexible in general helps reduce injury, enhance movement capability, and increase physical comfort. Flexibility is joint specific, meaning you might have gumby range of motion at the hip, but be tight as a new pair of shoes at the shoulder. Maybe you can do the splits, but barely bend over to pick up something off the floor. Different joints; different muscles; different range of motion.
Try this hamstring stretch as one part of a complete set of stretching exercises. If you need ideas and great stretches to achieve more of your flexibility goals, try our friend and colleague, Aileen Sheron’s program Flexibility Fast. Trust us that you can trust what she offers and knows how to help you reach your goals.
Don’t take our word for it. Watch our short video on the hamstrings. Then you can take our image and word for what good form requires. After that, click on the link to Flexibility Fast.
ACTION: The best stretch of all is the one your fingers make when you subscribe to our YouTube channel and this blog. Enter your email in any of the subscription boxes to get access to fitness advice tailored to midlife women.
Readers: Do you have a favorite stretch?
Photo credit: Us. Yeah, we took a screen shot from our video. Bet you could tell. Real credit goes to Rancho la Puerta fitness resort in Tecate, Mexico for allowing us to shoot this video while visiting as guest instructors.
By Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Alexandra Williams, MA
Whether you have weak abs or strong, this exercise has a version you can do. And the good news is that it might be perfect for people with bad backs or knees, or even for people who want to avoid lying down.
What is the purpose of the obliques, you don’t ask? I’ll tell you anyway. First of all, you have both the external and internal obliques, making something like an X along the sides of your torso. They help flex, rotate and abduct the trunk, support the abdominal wall, assist in forced respiration and in pulling the chest downward to compress the abdominal cavity.
And of course, the abdominal muscles all help support the spine and good posture. And those of you mainly concerned about the aesthetics of the waist get your wish too, especially if you work on good posture.Seated Obliques Circle gives you a leaner look in the waist, stronger abs, and better posture. Click To Tweet
I won’t describe the exercise in writing, as it’s far easier for you to watch the video. Besides, I want you to watch the video. Mainly so you can do the move with me. I don’t want to
suffer look amazing alone.
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I’ll add a tip that works for me – pretend you’re a marionette with a string running through the top of your head and down the center of your torso. Now imagine that the puppeteer is pulling the string up. If you’re more technical, just pretend it’s a plumb bob.
Because our Posture Series has made us so famous (hi Mom, hi Dad), we’ve been invited to a super duper event, where we’ll be offering posture assessments (and an energetic, fun Drums Alive class).
At the Yosemite Healthy Living Retreat at Tenaya Lodge, March 28-30, 2014 we’ll present a posture workshop, as well as a Drums Alive class to the attendees. Be part of Tenaya’s inaugural healthy retreat and join us at one of the world’s best wellness resorts (according to USA Today). Their focus is on interactive, fun, take home sessions and activities in a breathtaking setting.
Besides our classes, you will have exclusive access to wellness education on topics ranging from fitness and yoga to nutrition and personal care. Your weekend also includes special treatments in the Double Silver LEED-certified Ascent Spa, products and classes from Kimberly Parry Organics, and a hands-on culinary class and dinner with Executive Chef Frederick Clabaugh.
Why not book the weekend and join us? All kinds of good stuff going on for those with perfect (or imperfect) posture! You can focus on perfecting your gait too, by joining us on a walk right at the gateway to one of our nation’s most revered national parks.
No matter what, dear Posture Pals, do as the Dirty Heads suggest, and
“Stand tall, it gets a little better
I see the wall that we can break down together
Stand strong, it gets a little better now”
When you’re done singing and standing tall, sit down at your computer and book your trip to join us at Tenaya Lodge.
Photos: posture graphics – Dreaming in the deep south; all others – Tenaya Lodge
You’ll love “The Bug” ab exercise whether you’re a baby boomer, older adult, person with neck or head soreness, or simply someone who wants a great option to strengthen your abdominals without rounding forward into spinal flexion. And if you are wondering why you should care about rounding into spinal flexion, read our recent post that has abs training tips for older adults.
But first, check out our newly released “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50,” You’ll get over 23 videos and 10 modules all designed to help you strengthen your core and improve your abs. Click the link, then come on back to try our move.
Now for the video:
This core move is simple to do well, and very effective. The hardest part is remembering to keep your head on the floor or mat. And to bend your knees slightly. And to compress. Speaking of mats, what do you think of our nubbly, no slip beauty? We got it from Stillmotion yoga mats.
Have you subscribed yet to our blog? We come to you twice a week. Enter your email in one of the subscription boxes to get fun and safe ab exercises for older adults – and that’s just for starters!
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Actually the back saver test is a modification of the sit and reach test. Both are flexibility assessments, though the former tests one leg at a time; the latter has both legs extended simultaneously. For the back saver, you sit on the floor with one leg extended in front of you and the other bent with that foot planted throughout. Then you reach both hands toward your feet and mark how far you go. How low low low can you go? How low can you go?
So, what muscles get stretched in this test designed to test flexibility? For $100 per vowel and $200 per consonant, let’s go with H-a-m-s-t-r-i-n-g-s. We have a winnah! Hamstring flexibility helps with gait, posture and hip placement; such flexibility helps protect your back. So that’s the “saver” part of the story.
Take a look at this short video we did for eHow demonstrating how to get the most out of the sit and reach test. Don’t we look deluxe when professional videographers shoot us with two cameras?
How flexible are your hammies? Are you doing the test correctly or imitating Quasimodo and hunching over? As our video shows, you want to lift long through the spine and press your tailbone back, not under. Lengthen your arms toward your toes without “turtling” (having your neck disappear into your shoulders). If you do this incorrectly and slump or roll in an effort to get closer to your toes–as most people do– then you’re not really involving the hamstrings any more. You’re simply stretching your upper back, which is already pretty stretched out on most people. So do stay long and lifted through your torso. If you have good form, then raise your hands to wave as if you’ve been back saved!
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Next, sit and reach for the links to subscribe to our YouTube channel for short videos that will improve your workouts. Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please also follow us on Google+: Alexandra and Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
Alexandra: For the past ten years or so, I’ve had issues with vertigo, which has many causes. My vertigo turned out to be related to neck tension that affected my inner and middle ear. In practice, this meant I would be stuck in bed for days, not even able to move my eyes quickly for fear of getting sick and dizzy.
Since figuring out the problem, I have been able to manage my neck tension through massage. But!!!! (there’s always a “but” in these stories) I don’t go to the massage therapist often enough. So when the chance came to try out a Technogel anatomical pillow, I abruptly broke up with my lumpy excuse of a down pillow (I believe it had gone down, down, down years ago), and welcomed the anatomical pillow into my life. According to the description, this pillow is “recommended for those suffering from neck, back or shoulder pain. It provides excellent support and muscle relaxation. Suggested for those who sleep primarily on their sides or on their back.” Ka-Chinga.
I heard that it takes a few days to adjust, but that wasn’t the case with me.
Neck – Oh, this is lovely, and I feel so relaxed.
Me – That’s good. Now please go to sleep and release some tension, wouldya?
Neck – Yes, um, hmmmmm, zzzzzzz, snork, sigh………(sounds of soft breathing)
I haven’t dissected my pillow, but I know that it’s got foam and gel inside. And I know that the company got its start in the medical field, providing cushioning for bed-bound hospital patients. I know this because I went to the Technogel booth during my BlogTour trip to IMM Cologne, Germany. Technogel is an Italian company, I was in Germany, and my primary language is Englilsh. You can get a good night’s sleep in any language!
As part of my (cough cough) research, I tested out the bed at the show. And the laptop pads. And the pillows (they have 6 styles). Eventually they noticed and asked me to change out of my pajamas and leave. Not really, I was treated extremely well and encouraged to lie on the bed for as long as I wanted. Poppies… Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Sleeeeep. Now they’ll sleeeeep!
Kymberly: I, too was selected to try out a Technogel pillow. I chose the expensive one Alexandra did not pick so that we had some variety to report back on. While I fall asleep easily, I tend to wake up often then toss, turn, and flip my pillow over and over looking for elusive slumber.
Do you also have sleepless nights or stretches of insomnia? Some nights I wake up and run “to do” lists and conversations through my head. Such head chatter makes it hard to get back to sleep. Are you familiar with the song “Pillow Talk” made famous by Doris Day?
Pillow talk, pillow talk
Another night of hearin’ myself talk, talk, talk, talk
How do I turn Doris Day Pillow Talk into Kymberly Night of No Talk? Enter my new Technogel Deluxe pillow. It may be heavy, but it’s not chatty. Yes, the first thing I noticed was that the pillow had some heft to it. Yet it was obedient, conforming to my head and temperature.
Being a person who loves words, I actually read the pamphlet that came with my nifty, high tech pillow. There I learned that we are supposed to heave ho “standardl” pillows every 18 months due to germs, bacteria, small animals that look horrific under microscopes, and other gross out details. Oops, I had been about a decade behind on that task! Welcome even more to my new sleep buddy.
Ultimately the big question is simply “did I sleep better with this deluxe Technogel pillow?” The big answer is “yes.” Between the Pure Matters Healthy Sleep supplements I take, the new mattress my hubster got for my last birthday, and this special foam and gel pillow, I am showing those night sweats and insomnia moments who is boss! A colleague had told me to expect needing a week to adjust to Technogel pillows, but that the adjustment would be worth it. I transitioned in about four seconds, one snore, and two flutters of my eyelids. Comfort and support were mine. If you want to borrow my pillow, we are talking one serious pillow fight to wrench it from my sleeping grasp!
Relax your mind and body by subscribing to our YouTube channel and blog. Please also follow us on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Or click now on the icons above.
I was compensated by FitFluential LLC for this campaign. All opinions, pillows and snores are my own (actually, the snores are Kymberly’s).
Kymberly: Next, view our one minute video that offers the following back-safe obliques exercise. We suggest it because you have very little chance to arch or stress your lumbar region.
Before trying the moves we’re about to suggest, take a look at our recently released “Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50,” (over 23 videos, 10 modules, popular abs questions addressed). Click the link then return.
Back to our regular programming!
Lie on your back. Bend your knees and lift your legs in the air above your hips. The knees can be in towards your chest a bit; feet directly above the hips. Keeping both shoulders firmly anchored to the ground or mat and arms outstretched but below the plane of your shoulders, slowly bring your knees to the right then back to center then left. Go only as far as you can still keep your shoulders on the mat. Basically you are dropping the legs side to side in a hinge-like motion without using any momentum.
Next try reverse curls, which also target the core with little risk to the lower back. For one, the hips are tucked (posterior tilt) throughout this move, so the lumbar spine has little chance to hyperextend or arch (anterior tilt).
As for frequency, with abdominal exercises you can do them every day if you want. The abs are endurance, not power muscles so don’t really need a day’s rest in between. Go by how your back feels.Do abdominal exercises every day if you want! The abs are endurance, not power muscles so don't really need a day's rest in between. Click To Tweet
Alexandra: After you’ve tried these, please check back in and let us know which exercises were most comfortable, which were most effective, and so on. We want to know how you progress.
ACTION: The most pain-free exercise you can benefit from today and every day is to subscribe to our YouTube channel and blog. Enter your email and claim your bonus as well!
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Filmed at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Resort. Ain’t that place just super purty and inspiring?
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Readers: Who has suffered from lower back pain? How did you work through it?