Tag Archives: stretching

Reduce Back Pain with a Foam Roller

The back is an intricate system of tissues, bones and muscles where your low back mobility is affected by 3 important muscles. These are the quadratus lumborum connected to the pelvis, ribs and lower spine. Next is latissimus dorsi, the long and wide muscle along the sides of the back that is connected to the spine, pelvis, tailbone, arms and armpits. Third is erector spinae, the muscle that helps keep the body straight covering the mid and upper spine.

Different physical activities can cause a lot of stress to the back and make it prone to aches and pains, a typical experience among athletes and fitness buffs. Here’s how you can reduce back pain using a foam roller.

  1. The low-back roll

Position the roller under your low back. Bend one knee and place your foot on the ground as you Foam-Rolling-Lower-Backhug one knee close to you. From the base of your rib cage, do a slow but steady roll down to the top of your glutes. Do up to 12 rolls then do the same on the other side.

  1. The glute move

Comfortably position the roller under your glutes. Allow one ankle to rest over the knee of other leg. Roll slowly up to 12 rolls then repeat switching leg positions from left to right.

  1. The hamstring distance

Just right below your glutes is your upper hamstring where you must position the foam roller. With your right leg crossed over your left leg, let the roller go up and down, the distance covering your glutes and the top of the back of your left knee. Switch leg positions and repeat after 12 slow but sure rolls.

  1. The iliotibial band or IT band assist

Place the roller behind your upper thigh with you lying on your side so that your legs and arms are able to support the movement. Allow the foam roller to run the entire IT band covering the upper maxresdefaultpart of your thigh down to the area above your knee. Do a roll of 12 then switch sides.

Often, knotted muscles cause the pain and the foam roller is a cost-effective solution to fix that pain away. Through these exercises with the foam roller, self-myofascial release happens through massage and flexibility combination. Aside from its therapeutic benefits, you are in essence re-training your muscles. This may help prevent low-back pains from coming back.

Should I Stretch Before or After My Workout?

Let me give it to your right away: it should be after. Among the important “DON’TS” in exercising is stretching before a workout. Never confuse that with warming up which is what you do before a workout.

Common mistake

Warming up is often mistaken as a pre-exercise stretching and if you used to think the same, funnydogpicturesimportantstretch_thumbyou will now find out that they differ. Warming up allows your body to adjust to what’s coming ahead in your training. It is a safer approach and a more effective way of preparing the body for the exercise just as when you walk for a few minutes before you dart for several miles of run. Like a machine, it is your way of lubricating your body parts prior to the major, more rigorous movements so that things will run smoothly.

Stretching is not an injury-prevention measure

I am not surprised that stretching was thought to be an exercise preconditioning routine because it was believed to prevent injuries. But studies showed that no increased flexibility results from pre-workout stretching that could help prevent sprains and strains. On the contrary, it may even increase injury risks. When muscles haven’t been worked yet and you stretch, the muscles tend to go taut rather than relaxed and you could experience pulled muscles during a lift or a turn.

Best time to stretch

I am all for the benefits of stretching and I would like you to enjoy them too. But let me repeat that the best time to do this is as you conclude your workout when your body is about to cool down and your muscles are all already warmed up and flexible. This is also the time when your joints are well-lubricated and where you can get the most out of stretching.

Stretching is important

There are great benefits to gain from stretching such as improved posture, better range of joint movements, enhanced muscle coordination and many more. As such, I would recommend it even if you exercise or not. Stretching itself can be a workout and you can benefit from it no matter your age. It won’t require too much of your time yet you would enjoy the results.

A well-rounded fitness program isn’t complete without stretching and you should not neglect doing it. Be sure to do it right though and know when to do it.

Below is a free stretching video.  For more exercise videos like this, go to:  http://workoutsondemand.com

What Is Hatha Yoga?

A union of opposite pairs, a forceful yoga, a routine that requires more physical effort – these are just some of the ways Hatha yoga is described. “Ha” is sun and “tha” is moon that is why it is translated in many different meanings of togetherness to create a balance.

UnknownHatha yoga mainly dwells in “Asanas” (postures) which is a set of physical exercises with two main objectives:

  1. The practice of real meditation – perfecting one posture comfortably in a long period of time. Once perfected, more postures may be practiced so that inner mediation techniques are developed.
  2. The opening of path called nadis – the regular indulgence into Hatha yoga opens the path to bring in health and energy for both the mind and the body.

Mastering the postures, while important, is not the primary intention when indulging in Hatha yoga. However, through perfecting the postures, the ability to achieve strength of concentration and willpower will help open the body channels especially the spine channel to let the free flow of energy. This can be achieved after regularly doing Hatha yoga and the skin, bones and muscles have been aligned, the mind is conditioned, the body is toned and a perfect balance is created with the development of strength and flexibility.

Self-transformation through the unfolding of different Hatha yoga journeys:

  1. Shakti Krama – mostly practiced by Sadhus (holy men), it is a means to increase power.
  2. Siksana Krama – an intensive 2-week practice of asanas.
  3. Shrishti Krama – the stimulation of youthful developments of the physical, spiritual and mental being through improved concentration, flexibility and flow of energy.
  4. Rakshana Krama – yoginis who are active will benefit from this which is good for health maintenance. This practice essentially requires a relaxed state.
  5. Adhyatmika Krama – similar to Rakshana but with a more spiritual benefit leading to a stronger connection between mind and body.
  6. Chikitsa Krama – this is a healing yoga practice developed through recovered physical, spiritual and emotional balance.

I have experienced how Hatha yoga helps in self-transformation. The benefit you get out of each journey is worth each moment spent on every practice. To maximize all benefits in one, there are yoga classes that combine all 6 journeys.

Hatha Yoga in Today’s World

A yoga class that often deals with the basic and gentle movements but is without flows between poses is described as Hatha. It may be the perfect introduction to poses for beginners who are learning different techniques for relaxation through breathing exercises, slow-paced stretching and meditations. But will it work for you too? Here’s my take on it. I love the relaxed feeling I get from each session. It is slow yet very meditative and effectively prepares me completely from head to food, inside and out. If you want the same, I suggest you give it a try.

Below is a short 10-minute Yoga exercise video.  For more Yoga workouts like this, go to: http://workoutsondemand.com/workouts_yoga.htm

Top Six Reasons You Should Stretch

In my experience as a physical fitness buff, I have seen how people tend to forget to stretch. Perhaps that’s because there is not enough certainty of its benefits since they aren’t evident. Unlike when you run, you see the pounds going or when you lift weights, you see the bulks developing. But let me reiterate that stretching, like your regular exercise, is an important part of a fitness journey.

Stretching does not benefit the body only but the mind as well. That is why yoga or pilates are funnydogpicturesimportantstretch_thumbvery effective in giving that soothing, calming effect, physically and mentally. Both involve a lot of stretching, don’t they? Each session is a tension-release moment and that’s just a fraction of the benefits of stretching.

Let me go on then and share with you the top 6 reasons why you should stretch.

  1. Trains the body to deal with pain.

Exercising exposes your muscles to different aches and pain. Stretching allows good flow of blood where it is badly needed, providing enough oxygen so that you are able to bear with muscle soreness.

  1. Promotes faster healing.

Have you heard of muscle fever or DOMS (delayed onset muscle syndrome)? It is a common experience following a strenuous physical activity. When muscles are exerted, toxins are produced. Stretching moves these toxins towards the bloodstream to be crashed and eliminated helping the body to recover faster.

  1. Defense against injuries.

Stretching after an exercise makes your body flexible. Flexibility readies you better for the next workout schedule keeping you free of injury and other accidental wear and tear of ligaments.

  1. Helps strengthen and extend muscles.

This is another valid reason why I encourage you to stretch. You see those well-developed muscles that look kind of stunted? That’s because they don’t get regular stretching. When you stretch, you achieve toned muscles that don’t look underdeveloped.

  1. Gives a calming effect.

I just can’t get enough of how soothed I feel after a good stretch – body and mind! Give it a try and you will certainly know what I mean.

  1. Improves overall well-being.

Stretching lowers your risk of falling because of improved posture, balance and coordination. As someone who is so into workouts, I certainly know how the lower back is pained by stiff and tight glutes, hamstrings and hip muscles but stretching eases the pain away. On top of it all, I have learned from studies how stretching can help improve blood pressure because of improved artery function.

Considering all these benefits isn’t it about time you too did stretching? You’ve got nothing to lose but a lot to gain.

Do I Stretch Before or After My Workout?

Let me assure you that it is not about to stretch or not to stretch because certainly, stretching is important. When to do it is what matters – before or after a workout? Trust me when I say it should be done after your workout. Here’s why:

  • A review made by the New York Times suggested that stretching does not prevent injuries. On the contrary, pre-exercise stretching is found to be unnecessary and may even negatively affect one’s strength and speed.
  • A university conducted a review of over a hundred fit people who stretched prior to working out showed a reduction in muscle strength by almost 6% that they lifted weight 8% less than those who didn’t pre-exercise stretch.
  • Muscle, when overstretched prior to working out, works with less power especially if your training involves lifting weights.

Stretching became a stubborn pre-workout routine because many have mistaken it as or may stretching-doghave associated it with warming up. It is believed to help avoid physical damages but no study actually supports this claim and I have never practiced doing it as part of my pre-workout preparation. What I do instead is that I focus on warming my body up than doing some stretching.

  • Working out can cause muscles to swell with lactic acid. This could result to tenderness and exhaustion but this may be reduced by an after workout stretch.
  • Stretching allows muscles to become warm which means better blood circulation.
  • Muscles recover better and faster from a rigorous exercise when stretched.
  • An after workout stretching reduces muscle soreness which is often a reason why some skip the next session.

How your mind and body benefit from exercising is enhanced better by a post-workout stretch. It allows the mind to stay in tune with the body, helping it deal with aches and pains. When the mind and body are in tune with each other especially after an exercise, not only does the body benefit, so does the psychological state because the mind and body connection makes you feel relaxed. I find it a great stress-reliever too!

Some facts about stretching:

  1. Stretching, along with some flexibility training, allows joints wider range of motion. This is helpful in doing daily activities and in improving balance and posture.
  2. Stretching, when done properly, can also help prevent falls and other age-related injuries.
  3. It poses some risks of decreasing muscle strength hence not recommended before doing weight-bearing actions.
  4. It is known to be an effective post-workout cooling down technique.

How about spending a few minutes today to stretch?  Below is a free stretching workout video –  Enjoy!

End Your Day Stress-Free and With Energy

You’ve put in a full day, and somehow you have made it…congratulations!  Whether your day was spent at the office, in front of a computer, driving the kids to and from their school and activities, or you spent the day doing errands….you made it!  Now, it’s time to put it all behind you and change your pace.  But what should you do?  May I make a few suggestions?  Perhaps one of the ideas listed below will resinate somewhere within you to take action to a healthier and more energetic life.  The ideas are simple, but powerful – so why not turn off your phone, shut down the computer and spend five or ten minutes with yourself and find a new sense of internal balance:

1.  Meditate for five minutes:  Did you know that meditation is just breathing?  It’s really not that weird at all!  Find a quite corner where you won’t be disturbed, close your eyes, sit with your legs crossed and just breath deeply.  It’s normal for your mind to wonder – so don’t try to control your mind, just let it go where it wants to….and breath.

2.  Write a letter to a friend.  No, not an email – write a letter in your handwriting.  It doesn’t have to be long, but the power of our written words have so much power to not only the recipient, but to the writer.  Now, go get a stamp and mail it…yep, snail mail!  It will make your friends day and it will feel so very good to do.



3.  Stretch for five minutes:  Stretching is much like meditation, but is a bit more active.  Stretching will loosen your muscles and help your mind release stress.  And less stress means more energy.

4.  Walk around the block:  It doesn’t have to be far, but go outside and just walk for five minutes.  Waive to neighbors as they pass you, enjoy the smiles of children and pet the neighbors dog.  You will walk back in your house feeling so much better.


5.  Quick Workout:
10 Squats
10 Push-ups
10 Lunges
10 Crunches
….And if you can, repeat it once or twice.

5.  Do Yoga:  Below is a free 7-minute Yoga Workout Video – why not try it now?  I guarantee you will feel more relaxed by the end of the workout.