As the journey to greater health and fitness begins to yield measurable results, thoughts of doing active things, even “exercise” begin to creep into the consciousness. If you’re still stuck in your sedentary ways, you’ll have to trust me on this, but if you start to eat as outlined in earlier posts, as the weight starts to drop off you will hanker for movement, activity, exercise.
However, hard as it may be to restrain your enthusiasm, before embarking on any course of increased activity, prepare your body. I’m not suggesting weeks of boring, repetitive stuff …. but, rather starting to improve the mobility of your joints to reduce the chance of injury as you become more active.
Now, required disclaimer:- This works for me. I am not you, nor do I know your state of general health. These ideas and insights come from my research and I offer this information only to assist you on finding your route to a vital, vibrant life.
So, if it hurts, don’t do it! Go consult your doctor or other fitness expert.
I came across a great “set of drills” by Pavel Tsatsouline (he’s ex-Russian Army, don’t you know, Comrade?).
I started running through a brief version of them (say 6 reps each) whilst waiting for the kettle to boil first thing in the morning. Bearing in mind the body is at its least flexible at this time, be gentle!
So, start in a standing position, feet about shoulder-width apart, comfortable. We’ll work from the top down.
Gently raise and bend the head backwards then bring it forward and down so the chin drops toward the chest, stretching in the vertical plane. Repeat.
Next, still working the vertical plane, tilt the head from side to side bringing the ears toward their respective shoulder. Aim to elongate the neck. Left -> right, right -> left is one rep.
Finally, move the head horizontally as if to look from side to side (remember the Green Cross Code?). Again, left -> right, right -> left is one rep.
Shrug the shoulders up then rotate round front to back for your desired reps and then reverse, back to front.
Next, stretch the arms out at your sides at shoulder height and rotate them making increasingly bigger circles all the way to a fully vertical plane if your shoulders will accomodate it. Rotate both forwards and backwards.
Widening your stance slightly, twist at the waist to face left. Raise your arms sideways to shoulder height. Rotate the shoulders so that both palms face upwards. The left (forward arm) with the elbow down, the right arm with the elbow up. Next, turn at the waist to face over the right shoulder and rotate the shoulders so that again the palms are up, but now, the left elbow points up and the right one down. Sounds complicated, but it makes sense once you try it – remember King Tut (Steve Martin’s skit?). It’s helpful and fun, but not compulsory!
Simple version:- hold your arms out to the sides bringing the upper arms up towards shoulder height, forearms hanging loosely down. Gently rotate at the elbow so the hands make circles. Each complete circle is a rep. Go both clockwise and anti-clockwise.
Advanced version:- bring your arms foward to chest height, palms facing up as if holding plates. Bring your hands between your body and arms and back and out to the sides as far as you can with the palms still facing up. Rotate the arms at the wrists backwards and round so that the palms are again facing up and continue bringing the arms back out in front of you. One rep complete! Once you’ve got that cracked, do the reverse.
With arms stretched out before you at chest height, palms flat and fingers together, circle slowly at the wrist clockwise and anti-clockwise.
WRISTS AND FINGERS
Raise your arms in front of you to chest height. With elbows straight, gently flex the wrists up and back toward you and spread the fingers out. Bringing the elbows down and in toward your body, flex the wrists down and form fists. Repeat.
That’s the upper body taken care of!
In the next post, I’ll run through basic exercises for the lower joints.
Pavel’s “Super Joints” covers these exercises and continues with much more advanced drills as joint mobility and general flexibility increases. But, be warned, he’s like Marmite!
Dragon Door – Pavel’s site
A good tool for the hands, wrists and elbows is a PowerBall. Fun and addictive!
Another tool for improving grip strength – helps to ensure the weights and kettlebells don’t fly loose! – is PowerPutty.