#Fitness Day #NationalFitnessDay
Have you heard about ‘National Fitness Day‘ and what it stands for? Well for starters it always falls in September and in 2022 it will take place on Wednesday 21st of September.
The day is all about encouraging the nation to celebrate the fun of fitness and put a spotlight on the role fitness plays in our physical and mental well-being – something we can totally get behind! and believe it or not you will find a mass of free events that you can get involved in, It’s also a way to encourage kids to simply do 10 minutes of physical activity at 10:00 AM on National Fitness Day. This could be an Active Mile whereby children (and teachers!) can walk, run, skip or hop their way around a mile!
In actual fact, there are two National Fitness days, one in the USA which takes place in May and the other in the UK celebrated in September.
People, fitness, stretch and strengthen to sustain your mobility
At Cryojuvenate we are very much in touch with people’s fitness routines, challenges, and passion for their sport. We witness a huge variety of people who have sustained injuries through accidents, sports, and illness. Often, they are looking for ‘Fastrack’ relief from pain and to speed up their recovery. We also see many people just wanting to manage their recovery through the sheer volume of sports they take part in on a regular basis. In all scenarios using Cryotherapy has been proven to speed up recovery and help with inflammation.
You can learn more about so many different conditions here at our blog page, so much information about why cryotherapy is hugely beneficial not only before and after any kind of physical exercise but also for all-around health, such as sleep and weight management, energy, and fatigue.
Stretch and strengthen your lower back and ankles for better mobility
In this blog, we wanted to highlight another type of action you should take that massively complements physical activity and everyday movement – stretching and why moving every day is so important.
There are quite literally HUNDREDS of different stretches. For this blog, we’re focussing on just two areas – the lower back (a very common area of complaint) and ankles (to keep us sturdy on our feet). These stretches are all super simple and can be done anywhere from the gym floor to the comfort of your own home whilst you watch TV.
A final note – please be patient with yourself and do not overdo it. You may not become a contortionist worthy of Cirque du Soleil overnight… but by listening to your body’s limitations and staying committed, you will make improvements – a little bit every day goes a long way. So, give these stretches a go and let us know how you get on!
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The benefits of having a good, long stretch
In our time-poor society, stretching before and after a workout is often overlooked and sometimes even skipped altogether (yikes!). Hands up if you’re guilty of running away at the end of an aerobics class without spending the proper amount of time and care stretching out each muscle group.
Just like cryotherapy, the list of benefits of regular stretching is long. So, here are just a few key ones:
- Injury prevention (reducing the risk of injuring yourself, joint pain, and strains)
- Muscle flexibility and strength
- Increased joint range of motion
- Protects mobility
- Enhances performance during exercise AND everyday activities
Ankle strengthening – the towel stretch
The joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles in and around our ankles deserve some TLC for absorbing a lot of impacts as we run, walk, jump or skip our way through the day. Strengthening your ankles helps your mobility and stability as well as helps to avoid injury.
- Take a seat on the floor with your legs out in front of you.
- Grab a towel or resistance band and, holding each end in your hands, loop the towel/band around the ball of your foot.
- Create resistance by gently pulling the towel/band back towards your body. Your toes will move towards you.
- Keep your breathing steady and hold the stretch for 30 seconds – you should feel a mild stretch in your calf muscle
- Repeat 3 times
Ankle stretch and strengthen – banded eversion
- Take a seat on the floor with your legs out in front of you
- Place a resistance band around the tops of your feet, near your toes
- Check you can feel the tension in the band and it’s not slack
- Keeping your heels firmly in place on the floor and your hips and knees still, slowly move your feet outwards from a 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock position
- Hold at 2 o’clock for 5 seconds
- Repeat 10 times
Ankle stretch and strengthen – single leg stance
- Find a flat, non-slip surface and fold a towel into a rectangle. You may wish to use two towels to create more height
- Stand one foot on the towel and slowly lift your other leg off the ground
- Find your balance and hold for 30 seconds, rest for 30 seconds
- Repeat this 3 times and then swap legs
Ankle stretch and strengthen – bilateral to unilateral eccentric calf raise
- Find a raised surface, such as a step
- Stand on the step with your toes and balls of your feet planted, so that your heels are free to drop down
- Push through the balls of your feet and raise your heels (this is how you perform a calf raise)
- At the top of the movement, transfer all your weight onto one leg and begin to move downwards slowly, for 4-5 seconds
- Repeat 10 times before switching the leg you transfer the weight onto
Stretches for lower back pain
There are many different reasons that could cause a person to suffer from lower back pain, from bad posture and straining muscles right through to a slipped disc or sciatica. It’s always best to consult your doctor to establish a proper treatment plan, but here are 4 exercises that could help improve the pain and strengthen the muscles.
With all the following stretches, we’ve suggested holding the position for 30 seconds BUT if you’re finding that too long then absolutely feel free to start with just 5 seconds and gradually work your way up to 30 seconds over time. It’s far more important to do the exercise with the correct form.
Lower back stretch and strengthen – alternating superman
- Lie on your front and look at the floor. It’s essential you look at the floor through the exercise so as to keep your spine in a neutral position (which puts less stress on the back)
- Slowly raise one arm and the opposite leg off the floor and hold for 30 seconds. It doesn’t matter how high you can lift your arm/leg but 3 inches is a good height to aim for.
- Slowly lower your arm and leg and raise the opposite arm and leg, holding for 30 seconds at the top.
- Ensure the arms and legs on the floor stay planted firmly.
*VARIATIONS – if raising your arm and leg at the same time is proving a little difficult, start by lifting just one limb at a time.
Lower back stretch and strengthen – back prone lay
- Lie down on your front
- Prop your upper body up onto your elbows – be careful not to let your hips lift off the floor
- Hold at the top for 30 seconds then slowly lower yourself back down.
- Repeat 5 times
Lower back stretch and strengthen – single leg raises
- Lie comfortably on your back with a neutral spine, engaging your stomach and pelvic floor muscles (pretend you’re holding a wee!)
- Bend one leg and keep your foot flat on the floor. Your other leg will be straight out in front of you
- Slowly lift the straight leg off the floor. Don’t worry about lifting it too high, aim for 8 inches
- Make sure your lower back and the foot on the bent leg are both still firmly placed on the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds then slowly lower back down to the floor
- Repeat 6 times and then switch legs.
- Aim to do 2 sets of 6 raises on each leg
Lower back stretch and strengthen – upper back extension
- Lie on your front, looking down at the floor. It’s essential you look at the floor through the exercise so as to keep your spine in a neutral position (which puts less stress on the back)
- Clasp your hands behind your back (or as close as you can)
- Slowly raise your head and chest
- Hold the position at the top for 30 seconds
- Slowly lower your head and chest back to the floor
- Repeat 5 times
Where can you find more guidance on stretching?
There’s no shortage of places to look for stretching exercises on the internet, from blogs to video tutorials. Just be wary that there’s an equal amount of pseudoscience floating around out there too – for example, your favourite fashion influencer may share their own personal favourite exercises but that doesn’t mean they are qualified to teach you proper form. Always make sure you’re seeking tips from reliable sources and experts, such as qualified trainers, physiotherapists, or healthcare providers. If you’ve signed up for any marathons or long-distance events, the organiser usually shares useful information about this in their newsletters too.