Before you jump into your core workouts, try these moves to help turn on your core and maximize your results.
OPEN UP YOUR HIPS: tight hips can make it harder to contract the pelvic floor muscles (the base of your core). In fact, tight hips can pretty much turn off your pelvic floor. Stretch the front and back of your hips with a runner’s lunge and full squat to prep for a core workout.
WARM UP YOUR SPINE: The Baby Get Up is one of our favorites for warming up your spine and turning on your core before a workout.
CHECK YOUR FORM: Use this Head To Toe Posture Checklist to turn on your deep core stabilizer muscles and reset your posture during workouts. Be mindful of these spots for better form and check in frequently from head to toe that you’ve got yourself lined up during your core workouts.
Here is the Head To Toe Posture Checklist and posture cues to become familiar with and the video to walk you through the following spots.
HEAD TO TOE POSTURE CHECKLIST VIDEO
Becoming mindful of these key spots from head to toe during your core, Pilates or Yoga workouts will help you improve your posture overtime. Using good form during your workouts WILL carry over into your day.
You can take these posture cues out of the gym or off the mat to help reset your posture anytime during your day.
Better posture equals more confidence, better performance, and decreased risk for injury. You’ll walk, run, bike, row, and move better.
Prep, Reset, Reshape!
P.S. Download the Head To Toe Posture Checklist Video to reset your posture during your day.
It's time for more Kegel talk. A simple movement that can turn complicated quickly.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll be troubleshooting some of the more common Kegel mistakes to help you have a strong, healthy pelvic floor for better core workouts, posture, and performance.
One of the most neglected areas of the body and least talked about until you’ve got an issue down there, is how to have a healthy pelvic floor (PF).
The pelvic floor muscles are important for all ages but can need more attention as you age. They form the base of your core and support all your organs.
The Kegel exercise is the basic way to strengthen them. We reviewed how to do a proper Kegel in this blog post.
Here’s the challenge of the Kegel...
A proper Kegel is done when you can contract the PF without the rest of your body tensing up.
Easier said than done, especially when you start moving your body while you Kegel.
Let’s do some troubleshooting on how to avoid the more common mistakes when you Kegel.
Do a check in while you Kegel. Are you?
Here are some tips to prep for the Kegel and take the tension out of your body:
OTHER AREAS TO ADDRESS FOR A HEALTHY PELVIC FLOOR
A few other issues you’ll want to pay attention to as you improve the overall health of your Pelvic Floor Muscles:
Pelvic Floor & Constipation
Constipation and doing the Valsalva maneuver (holding breath and bearing down when lifting or pooping) can over stretch the PF muscles. Improving the health of your gut can take pressure off your PF muscles that have the job of holding up your organs.
Do you have any GI issues? 1 in 4 Americans do. You could have up to 15 # of mucus from inflammation in your gut. Signs are painful joints, bulging belly, bloating. All that puts load on your PF muscles.
You can decrease inflammation through clean eating with lots of green veggies, eliminating foods that irritate (dairy, refined sugar, gluten), staying well hydrated, doing a quarterly detox/cleanse, taking probiotics and exercising regularly.
You might also want to check out The Squatty Potty™, a toilet stool that puts your body in the best posture for pooping to take pressure off your PF.
Pelvic Floor & Hormones
If you identify as female and still bleed monthly, you might notice that it’s easier to do Kegels during the middle of your cycle and more difficult at the beginning of it due to hormone changes. Just keep at it but be mindful of your cycle and plan your more intense workouts toward the middle of it when your pelvic floor muscles might be at their best.
Pelvic Floor & Fatigue
The pelvic floor muscles can fluctuate in endurance just like any muscle. Sometimes you can turn them on but not keep them on because of fatigue. Or you may notice you can turn them on with bladder empty but not with weight of full bladder (or when constipated). The weight of your organs may challenge the PF when tired. That’s OK – you just need to build your strength and endurance like you would any other muscle.
For strengthening, use the weight of gravity to challenge your PF. Example: going from laying down to sitting to standing to moving your body as you Kegel. Each position has to deal with more and more gravity.
For endurance, add reps throughout the day to challenge your PF. Once you can do a proper Kegel in sitting, you can practice anytime throughout the day to build endurance- while driving, watching TV, standing in line. The more complicated the activity you are doing, the more challenging it will be to hold the Kegel and breathe.
The more mindful you can be of your form while holding your Kegel, will help guide you on when to challenge yourself with more gravity or moving your body.
When you can’t hold the Kegel without tensing up in a position, you may have pushed too fast or done too many reps in that position. Listen to your body. It’ll guide you. You'll know when you need a rest break or it's time to slow down.
You've got this!
It’s about that time of year. The time when we get lots of questions about how to get rid of neck pain. Maybe it’s all the online shopping?
Here is what we recommend to let the healing begin.
As always, anytime you have pain you want to calm things down.
First step is to decrease the inflammation.
Next CHECK IN on these 3 areas:
Hip Check In- stiff muscles or tightness causing pain in your neck can be a sign that you’ve got some underlying weakness in your core and postural muscles.
Why check your hips when you’ve got neck pain? All movement begins at the hips which are the base of your core. Your hips don’t lie. Imbalances in strength and mobility of your hips will cause issues all throughout the body.
Wait what? Yes it's true and because everything’s connected to everything through your fascia (connective tissue). If your hips are tight and pelvic floor muscles are weak, then your neck may be working overtime to hold you up against gravity.
Posture Check In- it’s important to check that you aren’t straining your neck with your positioning in bed and wherever you sit for long periods (i.e. office chair, sofa, car seat).
Bed Tips: How many pillows do you sleep with? You want to find just the right amount of support particularly in your neck area so that you aren’t too flexed or too flat. You’ll need to take into consideration if you sleep on your back, side or belly. They make pillows for all types of sleepers now. Find one that fits you just right.
If your neck is flared up, you might need some extra support in the curve of your neck just below the base of your skull. You can roll up a towel and place it in the bottom of your pillowcase for some extra support.
If you’re a belly sleeper, a good goal would be to try and become a side sleeper. You could even get a body pillow and sleep halfway between your side and belly sleeping for less stress on your neck.
Chair Tips: ideally you want to sit in a position with good low back support that encourages you to sit with your shoulders over your hips and head in line with your spine. Try to have your elbows supported to take tension out of your shoulders and put any screen at eye level to avoid slumping over and flexing your neck too much. Standing desks work for some folks also to break up their sitting time.
It’s impossible to have perfect posture all day long but you can become more mindful of how you sit and take frequent movement breaks to reset your posture and help your tissue stay hydrated throughout the day.
Stress Check In- most of us are aware that when we are stressed, we hold tension in our necks. Taking simple relaxation breaks from 3 reps to 3 minutes throughout the day will help you calm your nervous system and help you feel more ease each day.
Now that you’ve checked in, which of these areas needs some attention? Keep that in mind as you work on the next step: moving without pain.
NECK BASIC MOBILITY WORK
Here are a few gentle movements to help relieve neck tension or pain.
Relaxing your face- There are 2 simple moves that can help you relax your face and put less tension on your neck. Smiling and putting your tongue on the roof of your mouth while you breathe. I know it seems too simple but try it while you are working on the computer or working out to see if it helps keep tension out of your neck.
Relaxing your shoulders- Good form is important not only in sitting but when you are lifting weights or doing arm movements during Pilates or Yoga exercises. Check in and make sure your shoulders are not pulled up toward your ears (elevated) when you are sitting, cooking, driving, working out, talking on the phone. Instead keep your shoulder blades pulled down toward your hips and think arm pits to hips as you move and go through your day.
Chin Tuck Exercise- Sit up tall, shoulders over hips, arm pits to hips and gently move your chin back toward your spine like you’re making a double chin. Think about lengthening the back of your neck. Repeat 10 times as long as this doesn’t increase your pain. Rule of thumb: if a movement makes your pain worse, don’t do it or modify it.
Nose Circles Exercise- Sit up tall with good posture and move your nose in a circle like you are drawing a circle the size of an orange. Repeat 5-10 times then reverse directions and repeat circles 5-10 more times.
Modifications: If you’re super flared-up, you might want to do the Chin Tucks and Nose Circles laying on your back with a supportive pillow or towel roll. Bend your knees with feet flat on floor to take even more tension off your spine. You can do these several times a day especially at the end of your day. When someone has a recent injury, you typically have them do 10 reps every hour to help calm the area and get out of the pain cycle.
Remember we want to calm the body when it’s in pain.
As things calm down and you’re able to move better without pain, the next step is to turn on your postural muscles with stability exercises.
POSTURE WORK FOR NECK PAIN
Even though you are dealing with a neck issue, you want to start with stability exercises aimed at strengthening your hips and pelvic floor muscles to help improve your posture and take tension off your neck. You can literally reshape your body with a few minutes of daily fascial body work.
We show you how to improve the mobility and stability of your hips and spine using fascial stretching, massage and stability work in our online program, HIP Camp™: Stretch & Rest Care Tools To Reshape Your Body. Learn more here.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP WITH PAIN
If you have sharp or constant pain or start to lose sensation or control of any muscles, it’s time to call your doctor. Seek medical help immediately when you have an acute (new) injury.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a herniated disc or have numbness/tingling into your arm, you will need a health care professional to guide you with your recovery. You’ll want to find someone that has strong manual therapy skills and training with myofascial tools like cupping, kinesiotaping or dry needling. You may benefit from traction techniques also. Your provider should also give you a home exercise program to do between sessions.
Don’t forget you are still fragile as you are healing. Go slow as you get back to normal activities even when you start to feel better or have less pain.
P.S. Ho. Ho. Ho. It’s time to Roll. Our favorite foam roller is 30% off this month. It’s like having a PT, Chiro, Massage Therapist in one and the closest we can get to sending our hands home with you. You can find it here*.
In our online program, HIP Camp™, we show you how to use the foam roller & more to help you reshape your body for better energy, mobility and posture. Learn more here.
For more stress management tips, download this Daily Planner to help you add 1-3 minute rest & relaxation breaks into your day.
DIY Self Care Book Resource for Neck Pain: McKenzie Method- Treat Your Own Neck. Available in English and Spanish. You can find it on Amazon or here.
For more for tips on having good form during workouts, refer to this Fit Blog.
For suggestions on how to build your rehab team, refer to this Fit Blog.
*denotes affiliate link
Would you agree that time is our most precious resource? One thing that can rob you of time is being in pain.
You only have so much energy (i.e. brain power) in a day and painful joints or muscle soreness takes up brain space.
If you’re in pain and not able to move well, what are you missing out on in life? Is it time with loved ones, your favorite sport or hobby, planning your dream trip?
What’s pain costing you? At work? At home?
It's never too late to learn simple strategies to help you get out of pain and calm things down.
So, let’s do an inflammation checkup.
Are you in pain? Does your body feel, sore, tight, or stiff?
Inflammation and soreness are signs of over-training or over-use.
Healthy tissue doesn’t hurt. It’s not tender to touch. It doesn’t hurt when you move.
Pain is telling you something is not right. It’s a protective mechanism. It’s locking up to guard.
Your body is like “Hey, over here. Pay attention to me. You better stop that. I need a break NOW!”
It’s talking to you all day. We get hunger signals. Thirst signals. Fatigue signals. All of them are like the warning lights on your car. Alerts before you break down.
Most of us wait until our body is screaming at us all day or we can’t move before we pay attention.
The good news is you can learn to calm it down if you missed the warning signals.
6 Strategies To Calm Down Inflammation
THE MORE YOU:
The more you'll benefit from supporting your body with daily practices to decrease inflammation.
Which one are you going to test out first?
It's never too late to feel, move, and perform better! Here's to taking it one day or one step at a time.
Have you made any fun (or crazy) purchases during the pandemic?
I’m having fun with the mini tramp I got back in April when my allergies and left foot plantar fasciitis flared up.
I think a lot of people had the same idea because it wasn’t easy to find one in stock when I ordered it online.
It’s been great to spice up my workouts and beat the heat this summer, but also for my daily lymph care.
Your lymphatic system is part of your circulatory and immune system. It helps your body flush out waste and toxins.
Here are some simple and gentle ways to support your lymph system that'll also help boost your immune system.
4 TIPS FOR YOUR DAILY LYMPH CARE
Start with one of these tips and keep adding on as you listen to how your body feels. Your lymph system is always working hard for you. These tips will help make its job so much easier. They also help me feel less bloated. It's a win win.
Shake it out!
How's your summer going? It’s so easy to slide into the summer slump with your exercise routine. The heat, travel, changes in schedules, and now a pandemic can throw you off track before you know it.
It’s the perfect time to bust out our favorite summer workout hack, The 1 Minute Workout*.
Fast. Powerful. Can be done anywhere. Even barefoot depending on what exercises you pick.
One minute of hard exercise gives you the benefits of 50 minutes of training! Woo hoo!
Moving your body is also one of the best ways to combat “brain fog”, if you happen to be one of the many who are experiencing it during the Rona Ride. It’s even got a name, COVID Brain.
This FIT BLOG explains the 1 Minute Workout* in detail. You can do it with your cardio, body weight exercises, resistance bands, or a combo of them.
It’s basically warm up 2-3 minutes, do a cardio or strength exercise as fast or as many reps as you can for 20 seconds (intensity of 10 or make it burn), do 2-3 minutes of gentle cardio, repeat 2 more times. Cool down for a few minutes. Should be a total 10 minutes of actual exercise with 1 minute of hard exercise.
These FIT BLOGS have 9 different full body movements you can use to design a combo strength/cardio interval 1 Minute Workout:
You can do it! Go hard for 1 minute (with good form). Get creative. Mix it up and have fun. Always take a minimum of one day to rest between interval workouts so your body can fully recover.
Besides burning calories and boosting your heart health, all these moves will improve your energy and strength. Add them to your stretch care for longer lasting results in your mobility and posture. You can even squeeze this in during a work break if you have to. No excuses!
HOW TO MODIFY YOUR INTERVAL WORKOUT
How To Modify Your Interval Training: If you’re coming off a long gap in exercising or a break due to injury, you can modify the interval training by doing interval walking.
Research shows it improves blood sugar levels (glucose control) in those with Type 2 Diabetes better than just walking. And studies have shown that 34 minutes of interval walking has shown to improve blood pressure.
HOW TO INTERVAL WALK
OK, get up & get your body moving!
Mollie & Ender
P.S. Want to get stronger with less effort? Download this 3-minute Active Recovery Yoga Routine to help you train smarter, it's free!
*From the book: The One Minute Workout by Martin Gibala, Ph.D.
**For intensity guidance, refer to the Modified Borg RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) Scale from 1 (extremely easy) -10 (extremely hard or max effort).
Have you gotten clear on your ONE fitness goal for January 2020?
Does it include having more energy and less inflammation in your body?
Is 2020 the year you become a joyful & well-rested Wellness Warrior?
If so, we’ve put together a few NEW YEARS deals on our online bodywork camps to help you get started without burning yourself out.
They’ll help you take the first step to having more energy, ease & flow each day… by giving your body the gift of stretching and massage to release your tight & tender spots with less than 10 minutes of daily self-care (or what we call "stretch-care").
Both camps begin on January 6th.
At this time of year when there’s a ton of pressure to speed things up and change everything about your workouts and diet, we want to show you the benefits of slowing things down.
Let’s set you up for success by breaking the habit of going too hard, too fast. It’s THE recipe for inflammation, injury and burnout.
Instead let's calm your body with daily fascial stretch-care and bodywork tools so it has time to work its magic...to heal itself and get stronger.
Your body gets stronger at rest.
You can train smarter by resting harder whether it's to support your workouts or your wellness.
Our bodywork camps show you how easy it is to do this.
They lay the ground work for you to stay active, agile, & pain-free at any age.
It’s like when the flight attendant says to “put on your oxygen mask first.” Our camps are the "oxygen" for a strong, well-rested body & mind.
Our online bodywork camps are on special until December 31st. Choose the one that is the best fit for your body's needs right now.
GETTING STARTED WITH YOUR STRETCH-CARE:
If you’re a newbie to fascial stretch-care, our online MINI Bodywork Camp™ (How to Foam Roll & Massage for More Freedom & Flow) will help you get started with a simple daily foam roller routine. You'll learn how to use our favorite flexibility hack, foam roller massage, to calm your body for better mobility & stretch results- it’s 50% off for a limited time. Learn more.
GOING PRO WITH YOUR STRETCH-CARE:
If you’re ready to take a deeper dive into improving your mobility for better posture & faster recovery from workouts, you’ll want to check out the special we’ve got on HIP Camp™ (Stretch Care & Recovery Tools for the Mindful Athlete). It includes an AWESOME bonus holiday offer: The Pelvic Floor 5 Day Strength Challenge.
HIP Camp™ is our 4 week online base training program that will help you build a strong core with a well-rested body & mind. We'll walk you through our simple system to find & treat ALL your spots- the tight, tender, weak (& tired) spots to make lasting changes in your mobility & performance. You can get $150 off when you pay in full or we have a new payment plan option available with this special offer. Learn more.
It’s time to renew & refresh yourself in 2020.
Let’s do this!
Mollie & Ender
P.S. All holiday deals and bonus offers expire Tuesday, December 31st at 5pm CST.
The Pelvic Floor 5 Day Strength Challenge is a BONUS offer when you purchase HIP Camp™ by December 31st. It includes a pop-up Facebook Group for coaching & support beginning February 3rd. We’ll have daily challenges + office hours for questions, prizes, and cover strength, cardio, & clean eating exercises to improve the health of your pelvic floor & more. It’s the perfect compliment to HIP Camp™ trainings. Learn more about camp here.
Did you figure out your Peak Time to workout yet? If so, did you shift anything around in your schedule and see changes in your energy or performance?
Hope so. I've got another fitness hack to help you plan your workouts.
You can use your monthly cycle to help guide you with exercise.
Cycle check in (for females):
Where are you in your monthly cycle?
Your body needs different activity and has different energy levels based on the changes in hormones you go through each monthly cycle.
Paying attention to and respecting these needs throughout the month will help your body have more energy and perform better with less effort.
In general, you want to be gentle and take it easy while you are bleeding and start to ramp up exercise during the middle of your cycle. You want to ramp down as you approach the end of your cycle.
Beginning of your cycle (Days 1-5): focus on Rest/Reflect/Relax activities (i.e. naps, meditate, gentle stretching/walking).
Middle of your cycle (Days 6-20): you can train harder and increase the intensity (i.e. strength, cardio, interval training).
End of your cycle (Days 21-28): start to taper down training (i.e. yoga, pilates).
To dig deeper into this, check out the:
Not bleeding regularly or at all? You can use the lunar cycle to guide you. Kate's book talks about this in detail but basically:
If you are male, you can do this too. You actually go through all these hormone cycles in a 24 hour period. Every. Single. Day. You've got a few options:
Cycle syncing + working out at your Peak Time will help you get better results with less effort!
If you test it out, you'll see what I mean. Give it a go and let me know your results in the comments below.
P.S. Want to feel, move, & perform better in 3 minutes or less? Download the free MINI MOVES Daily Planner & Cheat Sheet for simple self-care exercises that’ll help your body feel more energy, ease and flow each day.
Do you wake up feeling well-rested and pain-free on most days?
Did you know that’s even possible?
Lots of clients tell us they’ve always been tight, are living with aches and pains, and assume they always will be.
Because that’s what happens when you get older, right?
You’re not destined to a life of stiff or sore muscles, slowing down, and eventually falling and breaking your hip.
Stiff joints, sore muscles, and fatigue are all signs of over-training (or over-doing) and not giving your body enough rest or recovery time between your workouts and activities.
Your body needs time to work its magic…to heal and repair itself.
Stiff, sore muscles are also signs you need to work on your mobility or flexibility.
The truth is…
You can win the battle against gravity, sitting, adhesions from old injuries, and the impact exercise has on your body’s flexibility as you age.
It’s possible even if you’ve never touched your toes.
It’s about technique and knowing what to target.
Once you know the fundamentals, you can see how easy they are to sprinkle into your day.
The pill-free way…
So, how can you stop struggling with stiff, sore muscles and fatigue?
You can stretch.
You know that thing you skip when you're trying to squeeze in a quick workout.
But, here's the deal.
Healthy tissue isn’t stiff. It’s elastic. Bungee cord like versus rope like.
Is that how you feel when you move right now?
If not, it’s OK because it’s never too late to improve your flexibility.
The first step…
Stretching is the first step to bringing the spring back into your tissue (after having good hydration and sleep habits).
And it doesn't take a lot of time when you know what to target and what to do before and after you stretch.
Just like we’ve evolved from flip phones to smart phones, we’ve made advances in stretching that’ll make a lasting impact on your flexibility and posture.
If you feel pain with stretching, you’ve gone too far…
There’s nothing more annoying than seeing an athlete on the sidelines getting his hamstring cranked on by a trainer. There is such a thing as over-stretching.
Bottom line: if you have pain with stretching, your body will tighten up more. The body’s response to pain is to protect, tighten up, guard.
And since you’re the best judge of what’s painful or not, you’re the one who should be the stretch “super star” of your body.
You can help your body stay active, agile, & pain-free at any age when you know # 1 thing to target with your stretching and how to stop over-stretching.
We’ll show you how in our FREE training, MINI MOVES: How to have more energy, ease, and flow in your workouts (& life).
In this free mini training series, you’ll learn:
READY TO BE ACTIVE & AGILE AT ANY AGE?
The technique we’ll share with you can benefit everyone. We’ve used it on clients with chronic neck or back pain to professional athletes.
Our pros always seem to achieve their personal best after a treatment (i.e. no hitter, new race time).
Are we promising you’ll become as flexible as a prima ballerina if you stretch daily? No, anatomy and genetics does play a role.
But it’s never too late to improve your flexibility…
if you’re willing to spend 10 minutes a day on simple self-care stretches and moves.
Let's get you stretching with (lasting) benefits!
Mollie & Ender
P.S. Sign up before 6/10/19 to get the free Mini Moves training – it's in 3 short parts (just like your stretch self-care can be) to help you feel better, move better, and ultimately live better.
Whenever you set a new fitness goal, its completely normal to get off track while it’s becoming a habit. You’ll most likely go too hard, too fast and burn yourself out. It’s human nature.
The research tells us this will happen to ALL of us. 80% of New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned in the first two weeks of January!
What’s more important is how fast you bounce back. How resilient you are. Not that you got off track.
You can build your resilience muscle. It just takes practice picking yourself up. In order to do that you have to become mindful of when you get off track. The faster you realize it, the faster you can start up again.
You’ve also got to learn to let go of the guilt of eating that cookie or not going to the gym. Before you go beating yourself up, focus on the fact you caught yourself or noticed that sneaky habit of procrastination and commit to starting over.
It’s OK if you over complicate it, overwhelm yourself, or get distracted by the new shiny object. We want it all NOW. New things excite us. They turn on our brain’s happy hormones. How many books have you started that you haven’t finished?
Whether it’s the holidays, a vacation, or a busy schedule that throws you off track, having the mindset of expecting to get distracted will make it much easier to get focused again on your goal.
Besides working on your mindset around goals, you can try these tips to help you stay and get back on track with them. Take 5-10 minute to reflect on the following when setting a new goal:
Download your Mindful Athlete Goal Setting Worksheet to help you avoid burning yourself out with your new fitness goal.
Keep in mind that fitness goals are really the steps that make up a larger lifestyle journey. It's about deep breaths and baby steps. It’s about progress not perfection. You're training for a marathon not a sprint. Building your resilience muscle will help you stay on course.
You’ve got this!
Mollie & Ender
P.S. Avoid burnout & overwhelm with the Mindful Athlete Goal Setting Worksheet - it's free! Download here.
Mollie Miller, PT