Before we get into what soft tissue work is we need to develop an understanding of what soft tissue is.
It is common place to take time to warm up before any training session. Coach Kayla wrote a great blog the other day on warming up for a big bench press that you should check out. While a solid warm up is important before any training session, what about warming up for everyday life. Speak to your average middle age person and 9 times out of 10 they will have had suffered some form of lower back pain. Most of these injuries are due to a lack of mobility and strength causing people to do every day tasks improperly. Overtime these receptive movements such as sitting up in bed, taking out the trash, or even bending down to tie ones shoes can lead to serious debilitating lower back issues if the underlying mobility and strength problems aren’t corrected.
So lets assume that you are already taking the proper steps by seeing a professional to help you with your strength and mobility issues. This only covers a couple hours of your daily life. What else can you do to help keep your body feeling good and functioning properly. Below is a simple 10 minute warm up that you can add to your morning routine in the comfort of your own home to help get your body ready for the day. Just don’t hit that snooze button too many times.
Most of these injuries are due to a lack of mobility and strength causing people to do every day tasks improperly. Overtime these receptive movements such as sitting up in bed, taking out the trash, or even bending down to tie ones shoes can lead to serious debilitating lower back issues if the underlying mobility and strength problems aren’t corrected.
Firstly and maybe most importantly roll out of Bed, don’t sit straight up. This isn’t necessarily part of the warm up but its important to remember this simple movement. Sitting straight up after lying down in a stiff position for hopefully 7-8 hours might not hurt in the moment but over time this puts a lot of unnecessary stress on your lumbar spine. Simply Roll to your side and then sit up.
1: Cat/Cows - This movement is done from a quadruped position and is performed by first pushing our hands into the ground and rounding your thoracic spine (upper back) think of a cat that has just been scared. Follow this by then arching your lower back and pushing your butt back towards your heels. This exercise is great for getting blood flowing to the lower back region without putting and unnecessary load on it, and you will also get a great stretch in your hip adductors (inside part of your legs) when you go into the cow position. Perform this for 10 reps or 30 seconds
2: Fire Hydrants - This movement is great for opening up the hips, activating the glutes, and working on trunk stabilization. Fire Hydrants are also performed from the quadruped position and are done by making circles with one leg at a time forward and backward. Perform 10 forward and backward with one leg before moving on to the next. The important thing to remember with this is to keep your hips as squared up as possible.
3: T-Spine openers - When the thoracic spine or upper back is immobile the lower back needs to take over as a primary mover. Since the lower back is meant to be a stabilizing muscle and not a primary mover this can lead to overuse and pain. The t-spine opener is also done in the quadruped position and performed by placing one hand behind the head and turning the upper body to bring that elbow to the opposite hand that is on the ground. You then turn the body to point that elbow as high towards the ceiling as you can. The trick is to keep your hips still and only allow your upper body to move. Perform 10 reps with each arm.
4: Bird Dogs - With the last exercise I noted how the main muscles of the lower back (the erectors) are meant to be a stabilizing muscle group. A Bird Dog when performed correctly gets all of your muscles working in the proper sequence to allow the lower back to become more stable. To perform, again staying in the quadruped position, extend your right arm in front of you right next to your ear and extend your left leg back behind you so that is completely straight and your toe is pointed down. The goal with this is to try and keep your back as flat as possible. This can be done by actively trying to draw your stomach in (think of sucking in your stomach at the beach). If you have trouble staying balanced you can start by only lifting either the arms or legs at one time and progress to the full drill. Once this is mastered you can try the advanced move shown in the video below. Perform for 3- 5 second holds on each side.
5: Dead Bug - this is another great trunk stabilizing move that is done lying on your back - with your feet up in the air and legs bent at 90° you want to try and drive you lower back into the ground leaving no space between your back and the floor. You can start by keeping your hands underneath you butt to help you feel your back pushing into the floor and then progress to keeping your arms straight up in the air. Hold this position and focus on taking deep/slow breaths into your diaphragm. Hold for 30-60 seconds
6: Cook Hip Lift - This is a great glute activation exercise. Still lying on your back you want to bend your legs but keep your feet flat on the ground. Pull one knee up all the way to your chest and hold it there. Perform 10 single leg glute bridges with each leg (lift your butt as high as you can) focusing on trying to squeeze your glutes. If you have trouble feeling this in your glutes you can start by lifting and holding for 20-30 seconds with each leg.
7: Push up Position Plank - This move isn’t rocket science but there are few tips to help make this move a little more effective. Remember when you get done with the cook hip lift to roll to your side not sit straight up. While holding a plank position try and tuck your hips under you and squeeze your glutes as hard as possible. This will make the move much more effective. Once this is mastered try doing an opposite arm shoulder tap while holding the plank. To do this take your right hand and tap your left shoulder and vice versa. Do this for 30s.
8:Push up position walkouts - This is a great overall warm up for your shoulders, trunk, and hamstrings. Start in a push up position and slowly walk your hands towards your feet keeping your legs as straight as possible. Stand up and follow by walking your hands back into a pushup position. It is important to try and hinge your hips back as you bring your hands to the ground and to keep yourself from wobbling as much as possible. Do 10 reps or 30 seconds.
Perform 2 - 3 rounds of this depending on how much time you have. This can literally be done at the side of your bed and should not take more than ten minutes. If you add this to your morning routine you will be surprised to find how much better you will be moving around throughout the day and you will decrease your likelihood of injury.
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