In times like this week forget about taking care of ourselves. Today is day 14 of the quarantine and I’m finding it more difficult to take of myself as we progress deeper into this. It is very easy to drop things out of our routine as our daily routine changes. Change is difficult, change is hard, but change can be for the better. When’s the last time you had a significant change in your life? Was it a new job, moving to a new city, or maybe introducing a newborn into your family? You probably remember how difficult it was to adapt to this new change which, at times, can seem overwhelming. That’s why with this post I am going to introduce you to something to add to your routine without being overwhelmed or to stress you out even more. I’m not going to start by telling you to run 5K everyday or to do as many pushups as you can until your arms fall off. We are going to start small, and start easy. So hopefully we can not only improve our physical health, but our mental health as well.
Step 1: Move (10-30 min)
Now I know this one seems simple but with this self isolating we are not moving nearly as much as we’re used to. Is anyone still counting their steps through this? Of course not, no one is when you’re taking 500 steps a day to and from the refrigerator (guilty!). I want your first goal to walk around your block, however long that may be, and time yourself. I’m setting an end goal of 30 minutes of continuous walking a day because this is all it takes to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, diabetes, and improve joint and muscle pain (according to the American Heart Association). On your first attempt, walk as long as you’re comfortable with. On your next attempt, try walking 2-3 minutes longer than your first attempt. Increase you’re walking time by 2-3 minutes a day until you reach 30 minutes as you’re minimum. And by all means, you can walk for longer or chose to run.
Step 2: Dynamic Stretching (2-5 min)
I’m not going to be the person who tells you that stretching is going to fix any problems you may be having but you would be surprised at the number of patients I treat every week who are having pain and difficulty working or taking care of their family all because of tight muscles. If we can encourage a couple of dynamic movements into your daily routine, your body is going to love you for it.
Here is a link to a youtube video from Redefining Strength where they show us 21 different dynamic stretches. She performs theses incredibly fast and it looks like the video may have been sped up so try this at your own pace. In fact, I would recommend going half the speed of “your own pace”. The slower and more control we have with these, the better. Pick 5 of the 21 exercises and give them a go.
Step 3: Stabilize the Core: (10-20 min)
Now these are the more difficult ones I am going to ask of you. These are the actual core exercises that I recommend to my patients and that I perform myself (I spend my day bending over a table, I need to make sure my back is going to last for a very long time). These 3 core exercises are referred to as “McGill’s big 3”. They were developed by Dr Stuart McGill from the University of Waterloo, who is the worlds leading researcher in back pain and spinal biomechanics. Lets just say, no one knows more about this than he does. So don’t drop these 3 exercises for some six-pack abs post you see on instagram.
Here is a link to McGill’s big 3 exercises being demonstrated by Dr Aaron Horschig from Squat University (an instagram page you should follow).
Attempting 3 sets of 10 reps is the baseline for these exercises but if you want, start with one set of each. Your body will adapt to these movements and get stronger within 2-3 days of doing one set each, when you feel you’re ready, add a 2nd set. If 10 reps for the 2nd set is too much, try 5 instead.