Sunday, August 18, 2019

Morning Stretch

Image from downloaded Aug. 18, 2019

Getting old is a pain. Or more literally, full of small, additive aches and pains. For me, it's most often nerve pain and tightness throughout the right side of my body, i.e. sciatica. Working out my lower body through squats and lunges, etc. seems to aggravate this more following the exercise; likely from inflamation from the muscle fatigue, micro tears, etc. However, I'm not a doctor so I hate to speculate. I also notice that the pounding at my heels from walking seems to contribute to soreness and stiffness during the day.

The other area I've had issues with has been my right shoulder. I pinched a nerve/tendon in that shoulder over a year ago while replacing the clutch in my car. That took several months to heal, but seems to be recurring from some overly active work coaching football.

Regardless, the ultimate problem becomes lack of flexibility. The pain combines with the fact that loss of flexibility happens naturally with aging and lack of time being active. Work has me cooped up at my desk most of the day and being chauffeur for the kids isn't exactly yoga either?

For the moment, I've decided to work in a morning stretch. Something to help work out the stiffness my night's sleep creates and "get the blood flowing".  It's a really simplistic routine. I was originally going to watch some yoga videos and follow along, but decided to keep it even more simple: no equipment except for the rug in my living room, no new weird poses or trying to be Jean-Claude Van Damme, no turning on the furnace to stretch in 100°F air.

While I may get fancy later, I am using some basic stretches from gym class and what I remember from my couple of stints in physical therapy (putting my infant son in his car seat resulted in a week in bed from pulled back muscles). Thus the stretches include:

  • Toe touches: 3 times, ~15 seconds each. Start gently and work to tapping toes, then tapping floor then pulling on shoes feet to get a little extra stretch
  • Calf stretches: 3 times, ~15 seconds each. I use the stairs and have the balls of my feet on the riser and lower my heels. 
  • Quad stretch: Using chair/railing I reach behind and pull my foot to my buttocks bending at the knee. I'm not that flexible so I usually use opposite hand/foot. I do each leg twice for ~20 seconds each time.
  • Groin stretch: The "butterfly". I sit on the ground and put my feet together, bringing them as close to my crotch as possible. I then try to work my knees to the ground. I do this twice for ~20 seconds per time.
  • More groin and hamstrings: Sitting legs out and spread I reach to the left leg, then the middle, then the right. Two times each for ~20 seconds. I try to work more into splits as I go
  • Spine twist: Sitting, I bend one leg up and place that foot over my other leg. I then twist towards the bent leg/hip with my elbow on the bent leg. Two times for 15 seconds.
  • Glute stretch: Laying down I bring one knee to my chest (the other straight out) and hold it for 10 seconds then bring the bent leg over my body to twist. I feel the stretch in my rear. I do the same for the other side. twice each leg for 10+20 seconds. 
  • Lat Stretch: I roll over and get on my knees. I reach my hands out on the ground over my head. I then shift to the right and left feeling the stretch in my mid to low back.
  • Cat stretch: This one just feels good. I go to hands and knees and arch my back up and then down. A couple times each way.
  • Hip flexor stretch: Here I go into a push-up position and lower my hips to the floor, keeping my arms straight. I feel the stretch in the front and don't focus on arching my back.
  • Leg swings: Optional. Sometimes I want a little more dynamics. I'll stand next to a chair and swing each leg allowing the hip and such to move and loosen. I notice a pop in my right hip from this :/.
Anyhow, that's a few moves I do and it takes roughly 10 minutes. The work does get the heart going a little, especially when I'm challenging my muscles to stretch. I've felt great after. I think the flexible start has been keeping some of the nagging pain and stiffness at bay.

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