Tag Archives: Couch stretch

Tight Hip Flexors Weakens Your Breathing!

Hey there Team!
I hope you had a few nice days off during Easter and were able to spend some time outside. We had amazing (!) weather over here, so I was lucky enough to bike to the beach a few times. It was quite windy though, and I had to push hard on the pedals more than a few times. Breathing hard and being on a bike made me think about lung capacity. It’s a normal train of thought, right? 😉

Did you know that tight hip flexors (often seen in cyclists, but even more so for people who sit on a chair during many hours of the day) can decrease your lung capacity? Well, how does that work?

When your hip flexors are tight they pull your hips into a forward (anterior) position. This extra tension makes it harder for your diaphragm to do its work. If the diaphragm is unable to fully expand it means that you will not be able to inhale as much air as your body wants and needs. For instance, less air into your lungs means that you will have less oxygenation of your muscles.

Less oxygen, less power.
Less oxygen, less recovery, less power…

Dr. Kevin Kirsch explains it short and sweet in this video. He is an Art Of Breath Instructor with Power Speed Endurance. Check it out.

 

Try out the different positions once and see how it feels. Tilt your hips forward as far as you can (just like in the video), and then take a deep breath. Then bring your hips back into a neutral position and take a deep breath here. Notice how much easier it gets to breath deeply when your hips are in a good position. Imagine the impact that can have over a longer period of time.

Here are two previous articles that includes the couch stretch, and also here. I hope this can motivate you, coming from a different angle, to work on those hip flexors. I mean, who doesn’t want their breathing to be as effective as possible?!

Being aware of your breathing is the first step. Now go out there and practice.

Have a great weekend freeing up those hip flexors!
😉

 


Four Songs to Improve Your Knees and Low Back

November is here! I hope you guys had a fun Halloween! Being in the darker months of the year we tend to spend more time sitting indoors. All that sitting makes for stiff muscles. Those stiff muscles can then cascade into more serious problems like back pain. We can all agree that being in pain is not exactly something that improves your daily quality of life. 

So let’s stay ahead of the game, and iron out those stiff muscles before they can start to trouble other areas. 

At my gym this week we did a lot of quad (upper thigh) work and since these muscles also get very stiff when we sit, I thought we should zero in on them quads. 

To loosen things up we are going to start with a smash on the quads. My favorite tool for this is the rumble roller, but of course you can use any foam roller. A lacrosse ball works well too. 

Remember to give yourself a little bit of time as you start out so that you really sink into the muscle. Take a couple of deep breaths and feel the muscle relax a bit as you sink deeper into the roller. From here you want to SLOWLY roll side to side. If you go to fast you will only work on the surface and not get deep into the muscle where all the tightness is. In the video they also use a voodoo band. If you’ve got one, you know what to do. If you’ve never heard of a voodoo band, don’t worry and just go on without it. 

Watch the video (jump to 1:12) and then pick two songs you like. For the length of the first song, smash your right quad. For the length of the second song, smash your left quad. Here are the songs I am currently using for this, number one and number two.

Ok, great. Now we have softened up the tissues a bit. Time to get some length in them with this active couch stretch. If you learn to do this right, this is a life saver of a stretch. It’s really important to pay attention to all the details.

Too often people aim to get their back to the wall. It’s not about reaching the wall- it’s about improving from where you are. You can use a towel instead of an ab-mat if you need to. Start out low, with your upper body at about 45 degrees, tighten your butt and then SLOWLY move your back towards the wall.

If you do not tighten your butt (activating your glutes in technical talk) you will put too much pressure on the disks in your lower back. This is not what you want. So, get into the right position and stay there for as long as you can. If you need to you can come out of it by moving your upper body forward for a few seconds. Then get back at it. Tighten your butt again and move towards the wall once more. 

OK, lets go! Pick a third and a fourth song for the right and left side. 

Four songs later, if you have just done these exercises, well done! You have now opened up your hips, and elongated your quads. Your knees and back will thank you. I think we can even stretch to say that you have improved on your quadity of life!

Pre-hab is much better than re-hab.
Let’s get to work tigers, and have a smashing weekend!

😉


Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash