Waking up early, particularly in the winter months can be a real challenge. It's this time of year that I see people get more neck and back stiffness than any other. I have my theories on this and the cold is definitely a factor.
In this newsletter I would like to share with you 3 different exercises that I feel are the most effective at keeping your hips and spine mobile and pain free. Watch the videos first to get an understanding of what the look like.
1. Cat Camel (Beginner)
Cat Camel video demo
On a comfortable surface kneel down onto all fours. Create a big C shape with the spine, tuck the chin in and round the back as much as is comfortable. Reverse this position by slowly creating a U shape with the body and look up as far as is comfortable. The Cat camel is best performed slowly and for at least 10 repetitions. Its a really low impact way to loosed up your spine vertebrae by vertebrae.
The cat camel is a really good exercise if you have a stiff neck. You can even modify it so that you look left and right and mobilize the cervical spine. The goal here is to mobilize via movement so avoid straining too far or looking for that "stretch" feeling.
2. Mountain Climber With Twist (Intermediate)
Mountain climber with twist video demo
To get the most out of this exercise focus on placing the foot as close to the hand as possible, keep the foot flat and drop your hip as close to the floor as possible. Only then will you get the best hip stretch, especially when you twist the upper body. If you struggle with upper body strength you can leave your trailing leg resting on the floor for support. Still aim to keep the foot flat and drive the hip low to the ground to get the most out of the stretch.
This is one of my personal favorites for loosening my hips and mobilizing my thoracic spine (located along the upper part of the back).
3. Indian Push Ups (Advanced)
Indian push up video demo
The Indian push up is more advanced than the others and requires some upper body strength. For those that struggle with push ups, you can always drop to your knees and do the push and look up from there.
One thing I would like to mention is that for some people this may be uncomfortable on the lower back, particularly at the bottom position when looking up. My advice here is to squeeze your butt cheeks (glutes) hard to help protect the back. If this exercise is still uncomfortable then regress to the mountain climber with twist or the cat camel.
Have a go at one or all of these. You could try 3 sets of 10-15 reps each. Take the recovery you feel you need and aim to keep the quality high.
Yours in health
Founder of Leaner